LOUDON, Tennessee – Tennessee Stands Executive Director Gary Humble told a group of at least 300 attendees at a Tellico Village Conservative Club meeting Wednesday that the state’s constitution gives Tennesseans the duty to resist arbitrary power.
Humble was referring to the doctrine of nonresistance contained within the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee, which reads in Article I, Section 2:
That government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.
Despite this duty, Humble pointed out, “Many around the state continue to comply.”
Humble asked the attendees rhetorically what greater arbitrary power is there than the stroke of a pen by the governor that deemed businesses non-essential last year.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s unconstitutional if you do it and comply with it,” Humble said.
Tennessee Stands, which is marking its one year anniversary, is a non-profit advocacy group that believes rights are given by God and works to protect individual liberties by restricting government representatives to their constitutional authority.
In addition to education and community efforts, Tennessee Stands’ actions include litigation on behalf of citizens.
To that end, there are several lawsuits underway that Humble gave an update on.
The first case challenged the authority exercised by Governor Bill Lee during the COVID pandemic under the emergency powers act, under which the governor then delegated powers to county mayors for the issuance of mask mandates.
The state’s attorney general has made a motion for the case to be dismissed based on the plaintiff’s lack of standing.
However, Humble’s group has identified T.C.A. 1-3-121 sponsored in 2018 by Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin) that affirms a Tennessee citizen’s right to challenge the constitutionality of government action.
Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, a cause of action shall exist under this chapter for any affected person who seeks declaratory or injunctive relief in any action brought regarding the legality or constitutionality of a governmental action.
The case is currently under appeal by Tennessee Stands.
A second lawsuit challenged the authority of the Williamson County superintendent and school board to mandate masks, an issue that is coming to the forefront as the start of the 2021-2022 school year draws near.
While the case was dismissed, Humble shared that the judge did something rare in issuing the ruling. The court found that school boards have no lawful authority to make a mask mandate.
In light of the American Academy of Pediatrics recent recommendation that all children over the age of two wear masks when returning to school, Humble’s group sent a letter to all 140 Tennessee school districts warning that they would be held personally responsible if mask mandates were issued.
State Rep. Bruce Griffey (R-Paris), Humble relayed, was joined by just 11 other state representatives who had “the courage, boldness and gall” to tell school boards that the Tennessee General Assembly has not extended any authority to school boards or superintendents to require face coverings.
A more recent development is what is known as the mature minor doctrine, which is actually a judicial principle from a 1987 court case involving a near 18-year-old Tennessee girl that is being misapplied by the Tennessee Department of Health to vaccinate underage children against COVID-19 without parental consent.
The state’s Commissioner of Health Lisa Piercey came under fire during a meeting of the legislature’s Government Operations Committee, The Tennessee Star reported, for marketing COVID-19 shots directly to children aged 12 and up, who were recently approved for the Pfizer vaccine.
The head of Tennessee’s vaccination and immunization program who promoted the mature minor doctrine, Dr. Michelle Fiscus, was recently fired from her post at the Department of Health.
“Parental rights end at the school door. This is what they believe,” Humble relayed to the dismay of attendees.
Attendees nodded in agreement, though, when Humble said his organization believes in parental rights and would fight these kinds of issues.
The Tellico Village Conservative Club, which meets weekly usually on Wednesday mornings, was started by recent transplant from Las Vegas, Nevada Rick Dramm.
The Wednesday evening event was held at the Tellico Village Yacht Club and included Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles and featured Natalie Winters, Senior Reporter at The National Pulse.
In opening the event, Dramm told attendees that any funds collected would be distributed with equal thirds going to the staff who set up for the meeting, the group’s Highway 321 billboard campaign and Tennessee Stands.
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Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Star News Network, where she covers stories for The Tennessee Star, The Georgia Star News, The Ohio Star and The Arizona Sun Times.