More NY State Sheriffs Are Refusing To Enforce Cuomo’s COVID Thanksgiving Gathering Limits

P. Gardner Goldsmith | November 17, 2020
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Two years ago, I wrote a piece and recorded a video for MRCTV about how Thanksgiving is a celebration of the Pilgrims dropping their initial – and devastatingly disastrous – embrace of communal property in favor of private property and respect for God-given rights.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a piece and recorded another video for MRCTV, this time about how New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued bizarre, inconsistent, unconstitutional edicts regarding who could and could not enter the state with or without having to comply to his demand that they get a “negative” result on unreliable COVID19 tests, and/or go under a two-week house arrest.

Both occasions presented opportunities to remember fundamental property rights that are supposed to be protected by the Bill of Rights.

And it seems as if a growing number of New York sheriffs understand those protections, for Bernadette Hogan and Kenneth Garger report for the NY Post that one such man last week declared his refusal to enforce new Cuomo “gathering limit of ten” for Thanksgiving – and three more sheriffs have followed his example.

Last Friday, two days after Cuomo announced the new restrictions, Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard said his office would ignore the indoor gathering limit.

And now…

Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy said there will be no Thanksgiving enforcement, and on Monday, Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo also threw cold water on the state order.

And, perhaps, the strongest refusal of the order, most intense admonishment of Cuomo’s flagrant ignorance of the Constitution, and most powerful recognition of property rights came from Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino, who took to Facebook over the weekend to offer Cuomo a lesson.

’Frankly, I am not sure it could sustain a Constitutional challenge in Court for several reasons including your house is your castle,’ the sheriff wrote in the Saturday post.

Precisely right. As I’ve noted, political limits on what people can peacefully do on their private property require police enforcement, and the only way police may constitutionally enter private property is after obtaining a public warrant from a judge who has cited the person to be searched and the item sought – which is a determination that the judge is supposed to make based on his or her determination of “probable cause.” Such a standard STILL leaves a lot of room for government abuse, because a judicial agent of the state determines what is “probable cause”, but the Fourth Amendment does require police to reach at least THAT standard. Added Giardino, without a warrant:

(As) a Sheriff with a law degree I couldn’t in good faith attempt to defend it Court, so I won’t.

So, now, four NY county sheriffs are refusing to enforce morally bankrupt, clearly unconstitutional, edicts from King Cuomo. They won’t enforce the “gathering limit”, won’t breach the Fourth Amendment, and they will recognize the First Amendment protection of freedom of association.

But will they apply that acknowledgment of private property rights to owners stores and other private establishments that politicians, bureaucrats, and many “law enforcers” erroneously call “public” places, even though they are actually privately owned?

Most city and state politicians blithely dance to the evil Pied Piper of “capacity limits” and impose them on the owners of shops, theatres, and other places open to people for commerce. And since the 1946 case “Marsh v Alabama”, when Supreme Court Justices friendly to FDR cruelly and arbitrarily decided that private places of business were, somehow, “public” -- despite the reality that public places are only those on which public/government tax money is spent – Americans have suffered the tyranny of police enforcing those political “gathering limits” and other edicts affecting life inside private businesses.

As these sheriffs show us, such edicts and statutes are baseless, immoral, and contrary to the concept of private property, and if we are to recognize the sanctity of peaceful private gatherings at homes, we must be honest and consistent and acknowledge the sanctity of private property in businesses and the wisdom of those running and entering them to decide what is safe and productive.

One’s home is one’s castle, and so is one’s business.

In open defiance of Andrew Cuomo’s “orders”, an increasing number of NY sheriffs are beginning to acknowledge the former. One can only hope that more “law enforcers” acknowledge the wider reality about private property and association.