Sheriff declares some distancing orders unconstitutional
May 6, 2020
Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer—already a national public figure for his defiance of enforcing Initiative-1639—now says he will refuse to enforce aspects of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s social distancing order because they are unconstitutional.
“Gov. Inslee’s orders pertaining to public gatherings or businesses operating in violation of his orders, in my opinion, is a violation of our citizens’ constitutional rights under the First Amendment, Second Amendment, and other amendments of the U.S. Constitution and Washington State Constitution,” Songer said in a statement Tuesday.
“Not allowing citizens to attend church or firearm dealers to conduct business is a violation of the First Amendment and the Second Amendment, but the governor has no problem allowing marijuana shops to stay open for business,” he continued. “As sheriff, I will uphold our citizens’ constitutional rights and liberties and will not enforce [emphasis Songer’s] Gov. Inslee’s COVID-19 Proclamation Orders on public gatherings and non-essential businesses. No crisis should ever violate a citizen’s liberty or God-given rights under our U.S. Constitution or Washington State Constitution.”
A story on the Talking Points Memo (TPM) website Wednesday reported Inslee’s reaction to Songer’s statement: “Only the Washington State Supreme Court has the ability to declare something unconstitutional,” the story by Kate Riga quoted Inslee's office as saying.
The TPM story also reported an attempt by Franklin County Commissioners to defy Inslee’s orders as well; the county backed down when Inslee’s law team advised them any attempt to reopen businesses would violate state law.