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Wisconsin sheriff refuses to enforce Democratic governor's stay-at-home order, cites Constitution

'I can not in good faith participate in the destruction of Racine County'

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling (Image source: WISN-TV screenshot)

Wisconsin Sheriff Christopher Schmaling, who serves Racine County, believes Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, has issued an unconstitutional stay-at-home order — and he is taking a stand to protect the rights of his constituents.

Evers extended the Badger State's lockdown order last week by one month, now projecting to lift mandatory restrictions on May 26.

From Wisconsin Public Radio:

Like under the original order, people don't need permission to leave their homes, but are only allowed to do so for specific things, like going to the grocery store or to the doctor. People are still allowed to exercise outside, but are required to keep 6 feet between themselves and others, unless they live with the person. Group sports, like basketball, soccer and ultimate frisbee, are banned. Playgrounds will also remain closed.

Essential businesses and operations, such as hospitals, grocery stores, hardware stores and pharmacies, will continue operations and don't need any special certification to do so. Wisconsin has been under the restrictions since March 25.

The extension resulted in protests at the Wisconsin state capitol building in Madison over the weekend.

In a statement, Schmaling punched back at the governor and said that he would not enforce an order that encroaches on constitutional rights, WISN-TV reported.

"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," he said. "However, state law does not have the power to supersede or suspend the Constitutional rights of American citizens.

"The overreaching measures taken by State government will have dire lifetime consequences for businesses, homeowners, and families. I took an oath to uphold the constitutional rights of our citizens and I can not in good faith participate in the destruction of Racine County businesses or interfere in the freedoms granted to all of us by our Constitution."

Instead, Schmaling said he would leave enforcement of the governor's order to public health officials.

The governor has not responded to Schmaling's statement. However, other officials have.

Racine public health director Dottie-Kay Bowersox called Schmaling's statement "concerning and alarming," State Rep. Greta Neubauer (D) said she was "disappointed" by Schmaling's position, and Racine Mayor Cory Mason defended the stay-at-home order, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

On Friday, the city of Racine reported it reached a new peak in daily cases, with 11 new cases and one death on Thursday, the Journal Sentinel reported. The city had 77 confirmed cases and three deaths, and the county reported 163 cases and eight total deaths, including two new deaths Friday.

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