Campbell County is a First Amendment Sanctuary, according to a resolution the Board of Supervisors (BOS) unanimously passed at a regular meeting on Tuesday.
“No Campbell County funds will be used to restrict the First Amendment,” the resolution states. “[No] County funds shall be expended to aid federal or state agencies in the restriction of said rights,” the resolution adds.
The document is a version of a no-shutdown resolution similar to one authored by the Virginia Constitutional Conservatives (VCC). However, the Campbell resolution has removed language requiring local authorities to arrest state authorities enforcing Governor Ralph Northam’s executive orders mandating capacity limits and early business closing times.
Instead, the resolution bars county resources from being used to enforce any laws that violate the First Amendment.
“It’s a sad day in the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia when a governor using unlegislated mandates is harassing, fining citizens, business owners and elected officials, forcing compliance through fear and intimidation,” Supervisor Matt Cline said according to The News and Advance.
VCC Director S. Chris Anders said the bill was well-intentioned but lacked teeth.
“While well meaning, the resolution does not call upon the sheriff to arrest and detain anyone attempting to enforce these unconstitutional orders within the borders of Campbell County,” Anders said in an email to The Star. “Therefore in my opinion it is just a resolution of their opinion rather than an actionable act,” Anders said.
According to The News and Advance, Cline previously said the Board does not have the authority to issue orders to the Sheriff or the Commonwealth’s Attorney, an argument also made by supervisors in Bedford County and Appomattox County.
“The Campbell County Board of Supervisors supports local law enforcement who support the clearly established rights of the People; and requests its Sheriff to not assist any state law enforcement officer, state health agent or federal agent attempting to enforce the unconstitutional order of the Governor,” the resolution states. “Campbell County employees may not assist in or promote the enforcement of Governor Northam’s Executive Orders 63 and 67, as amended.”
“I applaud them for making an effort but it is key that, any county who really wants to do anything besides look good, actually puts in enforcement teeth calling upon the sheriff to arrest and detain anyone attempting to enforce these orders,” Anders said. “Outside of that it is just politicians angling for votes for their next election.”
Two other counties in the Lynchburg area have considered drafting a similar resolution. Last week, Appomattox Supervisor John Hinkle told The Virginia Star that he expects his county to consider the resolution later in December.
Northam’s capacity limits and restaurant closing times have taken a toll on businesses across Virginia. Restaurant owners say large percentages of their sales come from late-night food and alcohol sales.
In September, business philanthropist Pete Snyder said Northam’s spring and summer shutdown orders created unpredictability that harmed small business. “And you know these mandatory shutdowns that are arbitrarily set […] You know they go back and forth and they have just crushed tens of thousands of businesses and small businesses all across Virginia,” Snyder said on The John Fredericks Show.
In October, Delegate Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach) said emergency powers were never meant to be used for an undefined period of time, but rather for an immediate, limited crisis.
“Two-thirds of all new jobs in America are created by small business owners. They are the economic engine of this country, that’s the American entrepreneur. And nobody is talking about them as victims. They are victims.” Miyares added, “A lot of them take out second mortgages on their homes so they can pursue their dream and open up their retail shop or their restaurant and that’s getting wiped out.”
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