Best of February 2023: Sheriffs have power not to enforce COVID mandates

Sheriff constitutional power coronavirus

Sheriffs have constitutional power not to enforce coronavirus (COVID) mandates

To begin the new year, I’ve been asked by some of you to highlight the most popular articles of 2023, so I will be reposting, in their entirety, the top article for each month (based on traffic). Ironically, the most-read article of February was actually a piece I wrote in November 2020, titled: Sheriffs have constitutional power not to enforce coronavirus (COVID) mandates*.

This article was posted in the early days of COVID tyranny, so some of the events mentioned are history now. Still, the actions taken back then provided a foundation for government to build on for the next “crisis” and they should serve to remind us that we must always be ready to defend liberty against government tyranny.

As tyrants in the state and local levels of government flex their liberty-killing muscles in the latest round of coronavirus mandates issued in a clear tyrannical overreaction to a so-called pandemic, pockets of resistance are beginning to push back against their unconstitutional power grab — including local sheriff departments.

As you might expect, the tyrants are none too happy about it.

For example, after sheriffs in four New York counties recently announced that they won’t be enforcing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s limits on Thanksgiving gatherings because doing so exceeded their jurisdiction — not to mention being constitutionally questionable — Cuomo accused them of violating their constitutional duty; calling them “dictators” for not obeying his command. Additionally, he declared that the government has every right to control what happens within the home:

“This is an emotional time, political time. Everybody has their own strongly held opinion. Right. You have a strongly held opinion that says, ‘COVID is all an overreaction. It’s a hoax. I’m not wearing a mask. I’m not following these rules.’ You have sheriffs upstate who have said, ‘I’m not going to enforce the law.’

“I believe that law enforcement officer violates his or her constitutional duty. I don’t consider them a law enforcement officer. Because you don’t have the right to pick laws that you think you will enforce, and you don’t enforce laws that you don’t agree with. Right. That’s not a law enforcement officer. That’s a dictator.

“Laws apply in your home. Domestic violence applies in your home. Drug laws apply in your home. Yes, it does.”

Putting aside the irony of a dictatorial governor accusing those who refuse to heed his dictates of being dictators, Cuomo is wrong. In fact, he’s constitutionally wrong.

When a group of sheriffs in Colorado declared last year that they wouldn’t be enforcing red flag laws in the state. I wrote an article about how they were doing exactly what they were supposed to do under the Constitution according to a Supreme Court ruling addressing unconstitutional gun laws.

When the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act (Brady Bill) was enacted in 1993, sheriffs in several state refused to enforce it and sought to strike it down as unconstitutional. Sheriffs Richard Mack of Graham County, AZ and Jay Printz of Ravalli County, MT filed a lawsuit that reached the Supreme Court. And in a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled sheriffs weren’t required to enforce the law because it violated the Tenth Amendment.

Writing for the majority, Antonin Scalia said the decision was based on the fact that the Founding Fathers created a powerful local government as a check against an oppressive federal and/or state government. Quoting President James Madison, he said:

“[T]he local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent portions of the supremacy, no more subject, within their respective spheres, to the general authority than the general authority is subject to them, within its own sphere.” (Federalist 39)

Scalia understood that the Founders knew the dangers of an arbitrary, confiscatory, centralized government, and he pointed out how they designed a system of divided power to ensure the checks and balances necessary to protect our liberty.

Just like red flag laws, the arbitrary and capricious coronavirus mandates and executive orders routinely issued are unconstitutional; resulting in the creation of an oppressive government that requires a powerful local government to resist it.

The office of sheriff is unique. Sheriffs are directly responsible to the people living in the county they serve, not the local, state, or federal government nor the courts. Sheriffs are elected, not appointed, and they have complete authority to reject the acts of any agency of the government if those acts violate the rights of the people.

Remember, the people are where the Founders placed all powers not delegated to the federal government.

There is no lawful authority for judges or a court to direct the law enforcement activities of a county sheriff. He’s not a part of the judiciary. He holds executive power and can set up a court, empanel a jury, and form a militia or posse if necessary to protect the rights of those he represents.

Using words that sound almost prophetic in today’s America, President Madison confirmed the power of local government to protect us against coronavirus tyranny.

“Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.” (Federalist 46)

In the fight against coronavirus mandates and tyranny, it’s encouraging to hear stories about those who reject these unconstitutional efforts and how they are taking a defiant stand against the tyrannical actions of a government quickly becoming a domestic enemy to the Constitution.

In the end, the sheriff is the highest government authority in his county, higher than any mayor, commissioner, governor, and even the President of the United States. This means that not only do sheriffs have the power to refuse to enforce coronavirus mandates . . . they would be negligent in their duties to do otherwise.


* The link to the original article can be found here


David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.

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