Andrew Cuomo has decreed that private gatherings in New York State, including those for Thanksgiving, shall be limited to no more than ten people. Cuomo declared:
New York follows the science. We know indoor gatherings and parties are a major source of COVID spread. To slow the spread, NYS will limit indoor gatherings at private residences to 10 people. This limit takes effect Friday at 10pm.
Cuomo did not cite any “science” in support of the ten person rule.
Did Cuomo expect this decree to be enforced? For example, did he expect New York law enforcement officials to spend their Thanksgiving knocking on doors and counting the number of people eating turkey?
If so, Cuomo’s expectations were dashed. Almost immediately after he issued his decree, some New York sheriffs pushed back.
Fulton County Sherriff Richard Giardino said he will not enforce Cuomo’s order:
I don’t think the Constitution allows for the infringement on the number of people in your own home. He has authority to do a lot but not to tell law enforcement to get into someone’s house and count who is there.
My position as a sheriff is that I took the same oath the governor did… and I don’t take any issue with the governors intent… to do what is best under the circumstances, but as a constitutional officer I have an obligation to the constituents in my county to follow that law.
What I’m saying is, it sends a chill into my community that law enforcement is going to knock on their door, count the number of people, and arrest them.
Two other sheriffs took the same stance. Erie County sheriff Timothy Howard declared:
My office will respect the sanctity of your home and traditions, and I encourage you to follow your heart and act responsibly, as well as do what’s best for your family.
Saratoga County sheriff Michael Zurlo said:
I can’t see how devoting our resources to counting cars in citizens’ driveways or investigating how much turkey and dressing they’ve purchased is for the public good.
Cuomo did not take these comments well. “I don’t believe as a law enforcement officer you have a right to pick and choose what laws you will enforce,” he moaned. “That is frankly frightening to me as an individual, frightening to democracy, it’s arrogant and a violation of constitutional duty,” he added, pompously.
Cuomo is no student of history, but he should be intelligent to know that when the government badly overreaches, it cannot count on the enforcement of its diktats. This, of course, was the lesson of Prohibition.
Competent leaders understand the limits of their power in a free country. Cuomo could reasonably have issued his decree as a form of guidance to citizens, although given all of the deaths caused by the Cuomo administration’s policies on nursing homes, I wouldn’t want to be guided by this governor. He could not reasonably have expected all sheriffs to enforce it, and certainly not on Thanksgiving.
Cuomo’s whining about “selective enforcement” rings hollow given his Party’s selective approach to law enforcement. Immigration is the prime example, but there’s also the unwillingness of authorities to take on the looters — actual criminals — who rampaged through Manhattan this Summer.
So much of the debate about the Wuhan coronavirus and how to respond to it has been marred, in my opinion, by lack of humility. Early on, we were virtually clueless about these matters. Nine months into the pandemic, there’s still plenty we don’t know. Yet, from the beginning, officials and commentators on both sides of the debate have pretended otherwise — often claiming, as Cuomo does, to be “following the science.”
Given his unchecked arrogance, we shouldn’t be surprised that Andrew Cuomo is among the worst offenders. And he shouldn’t be surprised that some sheriffs are going to ignore his decree.