Self-government is alive again – at least in Colleyville, Texas, and several other places where local officials are beginning to rediscover both the Constitution and the science behind defeating a virus.
Like in most other states, Texas residents have been placed under house arrest for over a month by executive fiat without any legislative input. That is beginning to change. Even as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is moving in the direction of prudence and freedom at the state level, the town of Colleyville, a suburb of Dallas and Fort Worth in Tarrant County, is getting a head start.
On Monday, Colleyville Mayor Richard Newton, together with the support of council members, amended the city’s disaster proclamation allowing churches to reopen so long as they follow distancing guidelines. Restaurants and gyms will be allowed to reopen under certain circumstances beginning Friday. The county government is also allowing elective medical procedures to continue.
This is a republic at work: County commissioners and city officials getting together and recognizing that this gratuitously harsh shutdown is unnecessary and cannot continue. The entire state of Texas has only experienced 517 COVID-19 deaths, representing just 0.0018% of the population. A similarly small percentage died from the virus in Tarrant County. Moreover, 25 percent of all deaths in Texas were in nursing homes, and nearly half of statewide decedents were over 80 years old.
Not only does the damage from the virus not justify shutting down democracy, the economy, and religious services, there is no evidence that severe lockdowns (as distinct from commonsense distancing and hygiene) achieve better results and would have saved more people. Israeli researcher Yinon Weiss wrote two scholarly articles researching the results of every state and numerous countries and contrasted them based on how early they applied a lockdown. He found zero correlation with decreased deaths. “There is no general correlation between how fast a State shut down and how many people died in the first 3 weeks following an early mortality milestone,” concluded Weiss. His analysis was so effective that Medium took down his first piece after it got millions of views.
Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis made a similar observation. Florida, with its elderly population, should have been smoldering ash, especially given the criticism from the “experts” that DeSantis was late to suspend the economy and never completely shut it down.
“You go back six weeks, everybody ... was saying Florida was going to be worse than New York,” DeSantis said in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday. “Obviously, we have a very elderly population. It was constant, people saying that. If you look at what’s happened, that’s not true. You know, New York, for example, has about 25 times the number of fatalities of Florida, even though we have 2 million more people.”
“I never did draconian orders here like you see in some of these other states where a dad would get arrested for, or get cited for, taking his daughter to the park. That doesn’t work. We’ve never done that.”
Unfortunately, there are still even Republican governors who have bought into the fascism in ruby red states. Americans watched with horror yesterday as an Idaho woman was taken away in handcuffs for swinging her daughter on a playground swing in Ada County.
🚨 BREAKING 🚨 Mother arrested in Meridian, Idaho for letting kids play in park This has gotten out of control St… https://t.co/WtdIkbzSyV— Rogan O’Handley 🇺🇸 (@Rogan O’Handley 🇺🇸)1587516355.0
Another family in northern Idaho is facing potential prison time simply for holding a yard sale outside their home in the open with no large crowds.
Meanwhile, the Ada County sheriff has announced he is not going to arrest some criminals. Arrest moms and release muggers?
Idaho Gov. Brad Little has refused to back down on his house arrest order. Thankfully, some state and county officials are beginning to push back. Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler wrote a letter to Gov. Little demanding that he reinstate the Constitution. “I do not believe that suspending the Constitution was wise, because COVID-19 is nothing like the plague,” wrote Wheeler in a letter earlier this month. “We were misled by some Public Health Officials, now it is time to reinstate our Constitution.”
Since the Idaho legislature has adjourned for the year, only the governor can call it back into session. It’s truly shocking how in a state like this – with Republicans holding every statewide office and a 4-1 majority in the legislature – we could witness fascism on par with what we are seeing in California.
Other sheriffs, from Michigan and Wisconsin to Washington state, are pushing back as well and refusing to violate the Constitution. "Wisconsin law gives the Governor and the Wisconsin DHS the authority to develop emergency measures and enforce rules and orders to protect the public during a health crisis,” wrote Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling in a letter to Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers. “However, state law does not have the power to supersede or suspend the Constitutional rights of American citizens."
Sheriff Schmaling is correct and has identified the crux of the issue Republican members of the Senate and most state legislatures have failed to see. Although states do have more latitude to make laws affecting our day-to-day lives than the federal government does, Art. IV, §2, cl. 1 prohibited states from violating core natural rights from the very first day of the republic. In 1867, the 14th Amendment’s Privileges and Immunities Clause gave the federal government enforcement power over states that violate those natural rights, which were specified at the federal level in the Bill of Rights after states had already adopted the original Constitution.
The first step in revolting against tyranny is to know your rights. While the progress is still very slow, the lamp of liberty is beginning to burn bright as people rediscover our constitutional rights.