While law enforcement across the country are busy arresting protesters for exercising their “non-essential” right to peaceably assemble, ticketing church-goers sitting in their cars, forcing family farms to close drive-through displays and even busting up Amish barn parties, some sheriffs are doing the opposite: refusing to enforce governors’ stay-at-home lockdown orders.
Snohomish County, Washington, Sheriff Adam Fortney says he won’t enforce Democrat Governor Jay Inslee’s directive banning things like church gatherings because the mandate “intrudes on our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” saying in a Facebook post this week that, "along with other elected Sheriffs around our state, the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office will not be enforcing an order preventing religious freedoms or constitutional rights."
“This is a very serious issue and the appropriate precautions need to be taken to protect our most vulnerable populations,” he went on. “However, our communities have already shown and continue to show they understand the severity of the situation and are doing all they can already to keep themselves, their families, and neighbors safe and healthy.”
Elsewhere in Washington State, Franklin County Sheriff J.D. Raymond said the order mandating the closure of privately owned businesses "intrudes on our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and neither I not my office will enforce any arrests or fines regarding the operation of privately owned businesses.”
Washington sheriffs who are refusing to enforce the orders have been met with swift pushback from the governor’s office, who’ve maintained that any refusal to cooperate is illegal and that only the Supreme Court, not individual sheriffs departments, can declare the governor’s mandate “unconstitutional.”
But these few law enforcement leaders aren’t the only ones pushing back on their state’s shutdown orders. Four Michigan sheriffs in Mason, Manistee, Benzie and Leelanau Counties have also refused to enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s mandates, which included arbitrarily restricting people from traveling to their own second homes, banning the sale of many “non-essential” items in retail stores, and telling people they can’t garden or do landscaping during the shutdown.
“We can’t just go do these things without warrants and justification,” Mason County’s Kim Cole said. “An anonymous tip is not going to cover it.”
“We want everyone to be safe. We want people to stay home when they can,” Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel added. “But it’s just gotten to the point that it’s getting a little too much.”