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Response to ‘Op-Ed By: Marvin Jeffcoat, Candidate for City Council’

Patrick O’Brien, pictured, is a practicing attorney and a life-long resident of District 26. He is a former chair of Community Board 2

Aug. 24, 2021 Op-Ed By: Patrick O’Brien

I feel compelled to respond to the Op-Ed written by Marvin Jeffcoat on Aug. 18, titled “Why I Oppose Unconstitutional Mandates.”

I read it several times and concluded that it is not an Op-Ed piece at all but rather a thinly veiled advertisement in support of his quest to represent District 26 in the City Council.

As I read it, I was struck by the fear that he may have been overindulging in the toxic (and addictive for some) Kool-Aid that has been distributed by our former president, and virtually all current Republican elected officials in Washington, for far too long.

This was very disappointing as I know him to be a very good man. But, to me, his editorial does not appear to reflect any independent thinking, or any accurate, insightful knowledge of the U.S. Constitution. Rather it seems to parrot the inaccurate, uninformed, divisive, anarchistic, and decidedly un-American rhetoric and incitement that our former president conceived, cultivated, and seeks to perpetuate, and that virtually all elected Republicans in Washington and elsewhere lack the courage, decency, and common sense to condemn.

It is replete with tortured and insupportable constructions of our Constitution and our rights under it. Sadly, it seems more intended to appeal to a similarly misguided constituency, Republican or otherwise, than to the informed voting populace of District 26.

To suggest that individual rights should outweigh the need to take action against the serious and pervasive public health emergency that the Covid-19 pandemic presents smacks of the kind of political pandering that far too many seeking elected office stoop to these days. Marvin’s service in the military and to our veterans, and his service to our community in many ways, is admirable and worthy of praise. However, his interpretation of our Constitution could very well leave a blemish on that distinguished record that no political expediency can justify or remove.

The statement that “No emergency ever justifies a suspension of the US Constitution and our Rights!” lacks in accuracy what he intended it to provide in drama.  This has been done many times in our history when dire circumstances require it. I think most rational people would consider this pandemic a dire circumstance (as did even our former President when he declared a national state of emergency last March). Examples of this include previous governmental responses to influenza, small pox, polio, mumps, and measles.

The authority for those responses, and any such current responses by the federal or state governments, is well grounded and long-established in constitutional, case, and statutory law.  When it comes to public health and safety, both the Constitution and rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court going back almost 200 years give broad powers to both the federal and state governments to impose emergency measures to prevent the spread of dangerous diseases.  This authority can be found in the 10th Amendment to our Constitution, which, among other things, grants the federal government broad authority to do so to prevent the spread of diseases from outside the U.S. and as a result of interstate travel. It also grants state governments similar authority to do so within their jurisdictions. In addition, there is statutory authority for the federal government to take such action by authorizing the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate federal public emergency health and medical responses.

This authority has extended to such dramatic measures as shelter-in-place directives, isolation, quarantine, the seizure of private property, and even more stringent measures, that limit personal liberties in furtherance of a public effort to control emergency situations, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, and protect our health and welfare. Each has withstood constitutional and other legal challenges. Under the extant circumstances and the new dangers posed by the rapid spread of the Delta variant, I daresay that the imposition of masking and vaccination mandates is not only a constitutionally permissible exercise of governmental power but a commonsense measure that his arguments just do not stand up to.

In the desire to make his points, he seems to have equated his personal objections and that of others (to which each of them have an absolute right) with a violation of the Constitution and their rights under it. This is deeply flawed thinking, even if it was not motivated in whole or in part by political gain.  He has confused those objections to putting these mandates in place with true transgressions against our Constitution.  He has done so, in part, by posing a string of questions, most rhetorical, that he either answers incorrectly, without support, or not at all.

Moreover, while the foregoing is greatly problematic, the most difficult part of his editorial to understand or accept is the way it cloaks its assertions in constitutional terms seemingly as if as if the volume of such a rallying cry will drown out the voice of fact, law, reason, and a proper interpretation of our Constitution. However, I think equity and fairness would have required, at a minimum, he point out that, in addition to whatever personal opinions he has the right to express, both the federal and state governments have the authority to impose health measures to prevent the epidemic spread of deadly diseases such as Covid-19.

To be sure, many questions remain about this pandemic and how to defeat it. But, his editorial offers no constructive guidance or ideas as to how we can work, on either or both sides of the political aisle or otherwise, toward that end. Rather, to use his words, it raises “more questions than answers”, not about the pandemic, but about his fitness to represent District 26 in the City Council.

PS – I am neither a registered Democrat nor a registered Republican, and have no skin the in the political game. I am only motivated in writing this by a desire to save my skin and that of everyone else who could be affected by this pandemic and should not have that risk increased because of the opinions of a misguided few.

Patrick O’Brien is a practicing attorney and a life-long resident of District 26. He is a former chair of Community Board 2. 

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Gardens Watcher

Hope that you and all those skeptical about vaccines will consult with your doctor and other medical professionals about the importance of getting a vaccine.

Per the CDC’s website (, the FDA has granted full approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on August 23 for ages 16 and older. The vaccine has been available under emergency use authorization (EUA) since Dec. 11 for those 16 and older, and for ages 12 to 15 since May 10. Moderna has also submitted their follow-up data and is awaiting their full FDA approval. J&J’s EUA came only in late February, so their application for full FDA approval will likely follow later this year.

EUAs allow medical products to be used without full FDA approval if there is a public health emergency. The company making the application has to submit data to the FDA from multiple clinical trials, and the benefits need to outweigh the risks before they are even granted an EUA. Much more extensive data and FDA review is required before a company is granted full FDA approval.

We are extremely lucky in this country to have three vaccines that have proven to be very effective against this novel coronavirus and its variants. I am very grateful for that, and for the courage it took for one of my extended family members to be a guinea pig in the early Pfizer trial. Happy to say that her antibodies levels are still strong.

We are in a pandemic, and Covid is a clear and present danger to all of us, not just a potential hazard. The Delta variant causes more infections and spreads faster than early forms of the virus. Virtually everyone who is being hospitalized right now for Covid in NYC are unvaccinated patients. Some are dying, and that could have been avoided if they had been vaccinated.

Please get vaccinated. And yes, your employer can require you to do so as a condition of employment. That now includes all members of the Armed Forces on active duty or in the Ready Reserves, including the National Guard, who are not yet fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Those with previous Covid-19 infection ARE NOT considered fully vaccinated.


Vaccine risk is binary. There is a risk to taking the vaccine and there is a risk to not taking the vaccine. O’Brien’s rambling diatribe is intellectually dishonest as it simply assumes vaccination is a net-positive. Being a lawyer, and not a medical doctor, O’Brien clearly is not qualified to understand the science behind the virus and is content to parrot recycled narratives about “the dangers of the Delta variant…”

The long-term effects of the vaccines are unknown and it may take years or decades for complications to appear. Younger people, especially those still in child-bearing years, should think long and hard before exposing their bodies to an unknown serum for which manufacturers have been given blanket immunity from liability.

Contrary to O’Brien’s lofty comparison, Covid is not the measles, mumps, or small pox. Covid’s main victims have been the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, or those with other co-morbidity factors. Healthy people under 60 make up an insignificant percentage of Covid victims.

I can’t argue the legal nuances of whether vaccine mandates are constitutional or unconstitutional but I can say they are un-American. A slippery slope indeed as the totalitarian flavor of vaccine mandates can easily morph into the restriction of our other freedoms.

Jeffcoat’s thesis is the correct one here.

Gardens Watcher

Nurses and doctors on the frontlines in the war on Covid can tell you firsthand about the dangers of the Delta variant. The ones I know are furious with the anti-vaxxers like you.

Even if you survive Covid, many develop
long-term consequences or “long Covid.”

Jeffcoat’s thesis is not only dangerous, but the part about suing people is ridiculous.

Gardens Watcher

If you’re fully vaccinated, you’re probably not going to have severe illness or require hospitalization. You are also probably not going to die if you get Covid, and that is a very positive, long-term consequence.

For a more complete list of the long-term health effects of Covid, see the CDC’s website (

Marvin Jeffcoat

My esteemed learned neighbor has demonstrated a masterful grasp of the English language, but legal fiction is still a dishonest tool used to circumvent the Constitution and his response is still full of conflicts and misleading statements.

Executive orders and mandates from unelected bureaucrats should not be allowed to substitute for the debate that should take place in legislative chambers before rules become law.

It’s strange that he would say I’m a good man because of my military service but not worthy of the respect one adult should show another with respect to making decisions about one’s bodily autonomy. It’s as if to say I’m chattel not worthy of thought independent from his yet good enough to be the beast of burden and risk my life in defense of our Republic. The subtle bigotry of low expectations and patronizing attitude of “be seen and not heard” is offensive to say the least.

We’ve seen this type of paternal dictatorship before from the Jim Crow south to Germany. It’s socialism and it’s evil period. We’ve also seen the type of caretaker mentality Patrick exhibits during the Tuskegee syphilis experiments. It’s not only offensive it’s dangerous.

Patrick claims no political affiliation but the liberal democrat global socialist machine seeking to exercise dominion and control over us owes him a debt of gratitude for doing its bidding.

His rebuttal also shows a lack of confidence in the experimental drug he so vigorously advocates for. If in fact it does work as a vaccine the vaccinated have nothing to fear from the unvaccinated. So why not respect our right to make independent medical decisions? Does he know whether my exposure to toxins in Iraq will adversely interact with the drug?

I leave it up to each citizen to decide whether the vaccine is safe for them based on their God given Constitutional right to consult with their physician and make an informed decision consistent with the Nuremberg Codes of 1947. Especially given that the drugs haven’t undergone long term studies to rule out potential hazards.

Marvin R. Jeffcoat


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