Here are highlights of a few articles I’ve read over the last few days. Not all of the articles. Not all the issues. Not all the states.
Please see if you notice a trend.
(Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change. If you are involved with a faith-based not-for-profit organization in any capacity, keep in mind the continued existence of the entity is protected by the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.)
4/14/20 – Legal Insurrection – First Amendment Fail – Raleigh police: “Protesting is a non-essential activity” – Citizens protesting the shutdown of the economy – citizens mind you, not subjects – were told by the Raleigh, North Carolina police to disperse. The police obviously announced that to the assembly and also sent out a message.
The police proclaimed, on twitter that:
“Protesting is a non-essential activity.”
See the article for a screen shot.
4/10/20 – Bridge – What Michigan’s new coronavirus stay-at-home executive order means – By executive fiat, the Michigan governor issued expansive orders restricting what can be sold and outlined a restrictive stay-at-home order.
Large stores, like Target, Lowe’s, and Home Depot may not sell:
- Paint and supplies
- Flooring and supplies
- Gardening supplies, including vegetable seeds
- (following article says car seats for children were also ‘non-essential.’)
So forget about doing that home improvement or repair project you had in mind for your stay at home time.
- Stores may not advertise anything that is not food or medical supplies
- People may not travel to their vacation home
- People may not go to another home, including friends and family
- Golfing is not allowed
- Gun stores are ‘non-essential’
- Shooting ranges and gun clubs are ‘non-essential’
- When on a lake or river, use of a motor on a boat is not allowed
So if you haven’t previously exercised your second amendment rights, they are now suspended.
Of course lottery ticket sales may continue.
4/15/20 – Fox News (can also find coverage on AP and most other media outlets) – Drivers swarm Michigan capital to protest coronavirus lockdown measures – Protests developed in the state capital by people upset with the harshness of the governor’s orders to shut down the state.
Governor excepted car seats from her orders after taking heat for that ban.
Article says protests emerged in Ohio and Wyoming.
4/15/20 – Reason – Michigan’s Emergency Stay-add-Home Order Is a Hot Mass. Now 4 Sheriffs Say They Won’t Be Enforcing Parts of It. – The 4 sheriffs indicate they will be flexible in enforcement of the governor’s orders. Indicated they would use common sense in evaluating what appears to be a violation.
These sheriffs actually pulled out the Constitution and read it. They concluded the governor has overstepped her authority and is infringing on both the federal and state constitution.
Lest you think I am exaggerating here is a quotation from their statement:
“Each of us took an oath to uphold and defend the Michigan Constitution, as well as the U.S. Constitution, and to ensure that your God given rights are not violated. We believe we are the last line of defense in protecting your civil liberties.”
Read that statement again. Then ponder it.
4/12/20 – USA Today – Police take license numbers, issue notices as Kentucky church holds in-person Easter service and 4/12/20 – New York Post – Kentucky worshipers met with nails in road as they defy coronavirus lockdown.
The pastor and 50 of the members of Maryville Baptist Church decided they were going to hold an in-person worship service on Easter Sunday. That is merely the most important day of the year in the Christian tradition.
Before the worship service someone, presumably not the police but vandals instead, poured buckets of nails, carpentry screws, and carpet tacks across each of the entrances to the parking lot. Volunteers cleaned up the vandalism.
Some people stayed in their car and listen to the worship service from the parking lot. Other people worshiped inside the building.
State Police walked through the parking lot and wrote down the license plate numbers of every vehicle in the parking lot. They wrote down the VIN of those vehicles with covered license plates. For the empty vehicles they placed a quarantine notices on windshields and advised the owner of the vehicle the county health agency would be notified for further enforcement action.
I believe it is unwise to gather for in-person worship service. My congregation has stopped live worship during the stay-at-home orders and we do not have the capacity for live broadcast, so I completely missed worship at my church. Instead I watched a live-stream from a sister church.
That is my opinion and my congregation’s opinion of how we exercise our faith. That is our decision.
This other congregation and their pastor made a different decision. In olden days, meaning before March 2020, that was considered free exercise of religion.
4/3/20 – Washington Post –Police break up New Jersey rabbi’s funeral, charge 15 men in another case of religion clashing with public health– Police in Lakewood New Jersey dispersed and Orthodox Jewish funeral for a rabbi. The outside gathering, mind you the funeral was held outside, was attended by 60 or 70 people. By the time the police were done they issued summons for 15 men for violating the governor’s executive order. One of the men was arrested.
4/15/20 – Washington Examiner – “Above my pay grade”: New Jersey governor claims Bill of Rights did not factor into his coronavirus executive orders – Coverage of the governor’s interview can be found in a dozen or more other articles; do a search and take your pick.
Stay-at-home orders by New Jersey governor categorized liquor stores as essential. Assessed as non-essential are businesses and churches.
The governor was asked what authority he had to “nullify the Bill of Rights?”
He said he didn’t consider Bill of Rights and it wasn’t his job to consider the constitutionality of his actions.
At this point in this post, you might think I’m making that up or exaggerating.
To make it clear this is the governor’s specific point, I will quote the article which quotes the governor. Here are his words:
“That’s above my pay grade, Tucker,” Murphy responded, saying he “wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this.”
I cannot give any harsher indictment of the governor’s contempt for the Constitution than to quote him. Read his comment again.
How many violations can you count?
Count how many ways the North Carolina, Michigan, New Jersey, and Kentucky governors have willfully violated the U.S. Constitution.
I see one or more violations of the following enumerated rights:
- Freedom of assembly
- Freedom to petition for redress of grievance
- Freedom of speech (by the way, advertising is considered speech)
- Freedom of religion
- Right to keep and bear arms
I have a sinking feeling that there will be more coverage of other incidents in the days and weeks to come.
Reminder of content of the Constitution
The first article above quotes the constitution to refresh our memories in case a phrase slipped your mind:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I’m no constitutional scholar. However, using my mind, I count six enumerated rights in the first amendment. The governors collectively have infringed four of them.
Also, to refresh your memory, the 14th amendment makes the bills of rights apply to states. Article says:
I misspoke before when I said that the Constitution only applies to the federal government. I forgot that the 14th Amendment makes the Bill of Rights applicable to the states through the Due Process clause of said amendment.
One pundit suggested recently that before any elected official could be sworn in, said official should be required to recite the bill of rights from memory.
Not a bad idea.