By: Jarrett Stepman 

America can’t move on from what happened during the mass government response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That was the message Tuesday at a House Judiciary Committee subcomittee hearing titled “Liberty, Tyranny, and Accountability: COVID-19 and the Constitution.”

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said the government response to the pandemic triggered “some of the most aggressive usurpations of freedom [that] modern Americans have experienced.”

The Texas Republican, who chairs the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government, recounted a long list of repercussions from the official reaction to the pandemic, including trillions of dollars spent, lost jobs and businesses, lost confidence in public health officials, and general damage to society.

An “apology” from the institutions that failed American society isn’t good enough and won’t change the irreparable harm done to the country, Roy said.

“Our rights are not to be negotiated. No matter how much they try to change the subject or rewrite history, we should never forget what they did to us,” he said. “We must not be the victim of another government science experiment ever again.”

Harmeet Dhillon, a constitutional lawyer who is the founder and CEO of the Center for American Liberty, explained to lawmakers how guardrails provided by the U.S. Constitution were broken in the name of safety during the pandemic, which originated in China.

She said the greatest threat to American civil rights in her lifetime arose from the “use of the so-called COVID emergency to eviscerate America’s most cherished, constitutionally protected freedoms.”

Under the guise of a public health emergency, government officials used unlimited executive fiats to “rule and curtail every aspect of our lives,” Dhillon said.

She said these actions were not narrowly tailored or based on credible science.

“The government closed our schools, locked down our houses of worship, destroyed our small businesses, criminalized our free speech, banned travel, kept us from our loved ones at their most desperate hours, even shut down the beaches in Orange County and the skateparks,” Dhillon said, referring to the California jurisdiction.

She said elected officials of both parties engaged in an unprecedented curtailment of liberty in America. Congress now must examine what happened during the pandemic and ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself, Dhillon added.

Beanie Geoghegan, co-founder of the organization Freedom in Education and visiting fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum, explained how school lockdowns derailed the education of countless young Americans, including her son’s.

Geoghegan explained how K-12 students suffered learning loss and other social maladies due to the extended lockdowns foisted on schools.

“Public schools sent functionally illiterate and innumerate young people out into the workforce or world of higher education, woefully unprepared to thrive or flourish,” she said in a written statement. “Too many young people today, especially young men, do not feel prepared to take on adult responsibilities or the challenges of college life.”

Geoghegan also said that the way to move forward is not to reward institutions that failed students, but to give parents other options for educating their children.

 “The solution to this problem was and is to allow families, not the government, to choose the best learning environment for their children,” she said in the written testimony. “The families who had that choice during COVID-19 are mostly free from this fallout because their schools stayed open or reopened much more quickly than public schools.”

This article was originally published in the Daily Signal