Normal Americans Consider the Shutdown

Rebellion against governors’ irrational and unscientific shutdown orders is growing across the country. As we have noted before, the revolt is especially strong in rural areas. What is striking is how sane and thoughtful the critiques from red America are, compared with the submissive hysteria that dominates most urban areas.

This is just one example among many, an account in the Mille Lacs Messenger, a central Minnesota newspaper, of a meeting of county commissioners. Compared to the crazed colloquys we see on social media and the hysteria that predominates in liberal media, it is like a transcript from the Constitutional Convention:

Sheriff and county attorney weigh in on Governor’s order against business openings

During the Mille Lacs County Board of Commissioner work session on Tuesday, May 19, Mille Lacs County Sheriff Don Lorge and Mille Lacs County Attorney Joe Walsh were asked to weigh in on the current situation regarding Governor Walz’s executive order limiting which businesses can operate.

Sheriff Lorge began by saying we are in unique times and that he gets calls daily from business owners who are frustrated about why other big box stores are allowed to be open and why they can’t. He said he has taken an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and there are questions about whether what the Governor is doing is Constitutional or not. Lorge said he personally struggles with some of the decisions the Governor is making and believes what he is doing is not Constitutional.

There are many sheriffs across the country who have weighed their obligations under the Constitution and have declined to enforce extreme shutdown orders.

“I would feel differently if it (decisions made about businesses being open) was across the board,” said Lorge, adding that these businesses who have had to remain closed were struggling already and often live paycheck to paycheck. “It’s a horrible situation. These businesses feel they can do a better job of social distancing and yet they are not able to do that.”

Lorge brought up the restraining order that was placed against a Stearns County business owner, Kris Schiffler, by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. “I question how they are able to get a restraining order without them (the business owners) even opening their doors,” said Lorge. “There are people out there that struggle to get a restraining order for other practical purposes.”

The Sheriff’s instinct is well founded. Minnesota’s Attorney General Keith Ellison acted improperly in obtaining an ex parte order when he was perfectly well aware of who represented Kris Schiffler, and could easily have given the lawyer proper notice.

Lorge said he believes “we should move on” and open businesses. “Livelihoods are at stake, and by picking and choosing who can and can’t open, in my opinion, that’s a dictatorship, and I don’t agree with it. He added that he hasn’t arrested anyone nor does the department plan on arresting any business owners.

Commissioner Roger Tellinghuisen said, “I would like to add that it seems wrong to be able to buy booze and candy and not be able to get a haircut.”

Common sense is not quite dead in America.

County Attorney Joe Walsh spoke to the enforcement and Constitutionality of the Governor’s order. He said the Minnesota Department of Public Safety issued guidance that was intended to be educational to get people into compliance and at worse, up until last week he said, a misdemeanor. He added that only the courts can decide whether something is unconstitutional or not and that they use three levels of scrutiny. As rights are more fundamental, more intense scrutiny is applied by the court.

Walsh added that different courts might disagree and that these things can be difficult to determine. “I do agree with the sheriff that the more arbitrary the order is, the more likely it is to be found unconstitutional,” said Walsh.

While a bit wishy-washy compared with the sheriff, that is a correct statement of the law. It is good to know that in America’s less-populated precincts, there are people who take the Constitution seriously and are willing to act on their convictions.