By guest author Robert Peck
When news of COVID lockdown orders began to be reported back in early 2020, my immediate concern was not over the virus but the lawfulness of the orders. Yes, the virus matters and should be researched by doctors so they can advise their patients as to the best methods of prevention and/or treatment. However, without the rule of law, we have no protection of our God-given rights, including the right to life.
Therefore, rights and the rule of law are paramount, even above COVID.
I quickly observed that the lockdown and shutdown orders being issued violated God-given rights, were not constitutionally authorized, and therefore lacked the force of law. As the orders that were promised to be for only a few weeks dragged on into months, it became clear we’d been lied to, and that action needed to be taken to restore the rule of law.
I had already been pondering the many ways such violations could and should be stopped and how the usurpation of power by governors could be put in check.
However, neither elected officials, political leaders, political parties, nor the big-name organizations of the right seemed ready to step up to the plate and provide the bold and decisive action needed. Without such leadership, the rank and file were effectively sheep without a shepherd, able only to bleat out a modicum of disapproval at their rights being violated by executive orders.
Before discussing the actions that could and should have been taken to put an immediate stop to the violations, there needs to be an understanding of God-given rights and the rule of law that lie at the foundation of this matter.
God-given rights are those things which the Creator of man decrees by His word, or reveals through the design of His creation, to be right for the creature of His creation. Man cannot add to himself rights not conferred by his Creator, nor can any remove from man the rights conferred by his Creator – they are immutable.
According to the American Founders, as articulated in the Declaration of Independence, the purpose of civil government is to secure God-given rights, among which are:
- LIFE: including the right to choose how to care for the health of that life.
- LIBERTY: both to come and go, freely associate, and worship.
- PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS: through ownership of property and stewardship of the fruits of one’s labor, which necessitates freedom to operate, or be employed in a business.
The Founders deemed these principles to be of such paramount importance as to state that whenever “any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…”
Closing churches, shuttering businesses, locking down citizens, and banishing people from the workforce for declining to be injected with a foreign substance, all violate these sacred rights and violate the very purpose for which governments are instituted among men.
The one traditional, Biblically-based exception, is the quarantining, or social distancing, of individuals found to be infected with, and currently contagious with, a disease known to be generally deadly or debilitating, such as leprosy was in Bible times. However, with well over a 99 percent survival rate among the infected, COVID is far from inherently deadly, and “if” a person does get infected, they are generally only contagious for a couple of weeks, not two years.
Romans 13:10 tells us that, “Love does no harm to a neighbor.” While that would compel those who are currently contagious with COVID to stay home, it also compels the rest of us to do no harm to our neighbor’s liberty or livelihood during the other 50 weeks of the year that he is not a threat to our health. Long-term, society-wide, lockdown-shutdown-maskup-vaxup orders show the antithesis of love, do harm to our neighbor, and violate his God-given rights.
The Rule of Law
Government operates by law, law operates by authority, and authority operates by chain of command. God, as the Creator, is the source of all authority. The Creator has delegated a measure of His authority to man with which to exercise dominion here on earth. Man has in turn delegated a subset of that authority to civil government by the consent of those who will be governed.
Here in the United States, the precise amount of authority delegated by we the people to our government is spelled out in our state and federal constitutions, each of which enumerates the specific powers therein granted. Any powers not enumerated in the U.S. Constitution are reserved to the states and the people (Tenth Amendment). Any powers not enumerated in a state constitution are reserved to the people alone.
All legislative (lawmaking) power is vested in Congress at the federal level, or a legislature at the state level. Therefore:
- Because the COVID lockdown-shutdown-maskup-vaxup orders have not been voted on and passed by the state or federal legislative assemblies, and;
- Because neither the state (at least in my state) nor federal constitutions grant power to government to regulate or dictate personal healthcare, and;
- Because these orders violate the God-given rights of healthy (not currently contagious) individuals, and;
- Because the executive branches of state and federal government that issued the orders do not have lawmaking power;
- Therefore, no such orders can be law, nor do they have the force of law.
“But what about emergency powers acts passed by Congress or state legislatures?” Well, what article, section, or subsection of the constitution grants to the legislative branch the power to grant to the executive branch powers not granted by we the people to either branch?
The idea of emergency powers is ludicrous. Such a concept would serve as a blank check for the government to grant to itself whatever powers it wants. It would render the very idea of a constitution utterly meaningless. That’s why the American founders made no such provision in the U.S. Constitution nor is there such in my state constitution.
Even if a state has laws providing for the quarantining of persons known to have certain infectious diseases, blanket application of lockdown-shutdown-maskup-vaxup orders to the entire population without verification of an individual’s infectious status violates the due process of law. It effectively skips the step in law where evidence of wrongdoing is required and proceeds instead directly to sentencing. It’s equivalent to a state suspending everyone’s driver’s license over the holidays because some might drink and drive. Even if it saves a few lives, it voids due process and violates everyone’s rights.
Seven Ways the Violations Could Be Stopped
Seeing that blanket application of lockdown-shutdown-maskup-vaxup orders violates God-given rights and the rule of law, let’s look at some of the ways they could, and/or should have been stopped.
No governor was forced to lock their state’s citizens in their homes, suspend religious services, shutter businesses, or make healthy people wear masks. And though President Trump once said he would have made states implement shutdowns had they not done so on their own, neither the President nor governors have the constitutional authority to make such policies law.
Of 27 Republican and 23 Democratic governors in 2020, only one chose to confine herself to the powers granted in her state’s constitution from day one – South Dakota’s Kristi Noem (see the last section of this article).
“But I thought the Republican governors were better than the Democrats.” Well, if by “better” you mean they violated their citizen’s rights less, or for a shorter period, then yes, some Republicans did that.
Regarding President Biden’s current unconstitutional vaccine mandate on employers, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis appears to understand and be performing his duty to protect the citizens and employers of his state against unlawful federal overreach.
Only time will tell how many of the governors currently echoing DeSantis’ sentiments possess the courage to follow through or how many are just making the noises conservative voters want to hear.
2) STATE ATTORNEY GENERALS
Any state attorney general who has read the Declaration of Independence, has a rudimentary understanding of God-given rights, and knows that only legislatures can make law, should have been at the governor’s office the day after any shutdown-lockdown-maskup orders were issued reminding the governor that he does not have such authority and that to avoid prosecution for violating the rights of the citizens, he must cease and desist.
3) STATE LEGISLATURES
Whenever a governor usurps to himself power not constitutionally granted by the people or uses power in a way that violates the God-given rights of the people, it becomes the duty of the state legislature to bring impeachment charges against the governor and remove him from office.
Republicans hold a majority in the legislatures of 30 states with a veto-proof supermajority in 16. If they’re really the defenders of law and liberty, then Republicans missed a great chance to prove it by impeaching 29 governors and removing 15 (accounting for South Dakota where the governor did not engage in usurpation).
The Biden vaccine mandate on employers provides an excellent opportunity for state legislatures to practice the principle of nullification, passing resolutions declaring the businesses of their state exempt from the unlawful edict and pledging the state’s protection to those businesses choosing not to comply. Though some Republican legislatures are making noises about passing bills to protect workers against forced vaccination, sadly, some appear to be planning to simply place a reverse mandate against employers, not taking a real stand for the rule of law but instead taking the coward’s way out and leaving employers stuck in the middle between opposing state and federal mandates.
By the way, the Trump moratorium on evictions was just as unconstitutional as Biden’s vaccine mandate, though I don’t recall these same Republican legislators opposing that, which tells me their current indignation is more about partisan politics than devotion to principle.
4) THE COUNTY SHERIFF
As the highest law enforcement officer in the land, it is the duty of the county sheriff to interpose between overreaching state or federal officials and the citizens of his county in defense of their rights. I would like to think this happened in at least a few of the 3,143 counties in the U.S., but I’ll rely on readers to let me know if it happened in their county.
5) THE COUNTY COMMISSION
When a governor takes to himself powers not delegated by the state’s constitution and begins to violate the rights of citizens, it becomes the duty of the county commission to adopt a resolution acknowledging that the governor’s orders are without the force of law and may not be enforced upon the citizens, businesses, or churches of their county. The resolution should further call upon the county sheriff to repel any state officers seeking to enforce such orders or impose any resulting fines.
It is the duty of the President of the United States to use the bully pulpit of his office to articulate, and when necessary, reassert the God-given rights of the people and the duties of state and local authorities in preserving those rights.
The U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 4, guarantees “to every state in this union a republican form of government,” which is to say, government by the rule of law as opposed to government by edict of an executive. The lockdown-shutdown-maskup orders issued by governors in 2020, and continuing in 2021, give cause for the President and Congress to remind states of this provision and call misbehaving governors to account.
However, neither Presidents Trump nor Biden have so used their bully pulpit but instead chose to hand it over to an unelected bureaucrat named Anthony Fauci.
7) WE THE PEOPLE
The last line of defense against tyranny is always “we the people,” both through the courts, and when necessary, through acts of civil disobedience that obey the rule of law rather than the edicts of tyrants. In the case at hand, this would consist primarily of individuals, churches, and businesses declining to obey the unlawful lockdown-shutdown-maskup-vaxup orders. And yes, this would necessitate a legal defense against the ensuing fines that would be levied, and that would require we the people putting our money where our mouth is in the form of donating to such undertakings.
There are a few smaller organizations that have taken on some court cases around the country, but where are the big organizations and the big money of the right?
Where are the multi-million dollar entities that are hallowed in the halls of CPAC every year? Where are the political heroes of the right who the faithful pay hundreds of dollars per plate to attend dinners with and fawn over their words?
In 2020, $6.6 billion was spent on presidential campaigns. A fraction of that diverted to court cases could have overwhelmed the system and brought unlawful COVID orders to a grinding halt under the weight of more legal battles than governors could fight. Such a response by we the people could have set legal precedents that would have done more to preserve liberty than electing any president has done in our lifetimes.
Yes, we can also write to our representatives, begging and pleading that they defend our rights. We can even hold rallies and march through the streets of our cities calling for medical freedom, as I recently did with a group of several thousand here in Spokane.
We’ve Elected the Wrong People at Every Level
However, at the end of the day, one thing remains – we are and will be, governed by this, or some other form of government that will either venerate or violate our God-given rights. Therefore, the effectiveness of any activism by “we the people” ultimately depends on our having first elected, to at least some levels of government, individuals who understand our God-given rights and possess the courage to defend them when our pleas reach their ears. But the fact that we find ourselves relegated to action item number seven in the list above, stands as evidence that we’ve elected the wrong people to every level of government that could have been used to interpose on our behalf.
Yes, there is a handful in Congress, and in most state legislatures around the country, who still contend for God-given rights and the rule of law, about five percent by my last estimate, though a friend and former state rep in Montana thinks that’s a bit optimistic.
And how did we get to the place of electing all the wrong people? We did it by the conservative movement spending decades pursuing political power at the expense of whatever principles Republican leaders told the faithful they had to compromise away to beat the Democrats.
A Precedent Is Being Set
Failure to actively resist a violation quickly becomes acquiescence and acquiescence is eventually counted as consent.
After over a year and a half of suffering unlawful violations without clear and decisive action in defense of our rights, we now stand at the point where further acquiescence could rightly be interrupted as consenting to the forfeiture of the very concept of there being such a thing as inherent and immutable rights. We have begun to set the precedent of government being no longer by the constitutional rule of law, but by whoever has the most guns, bureaucrats, judges, and political will to subjugate the masses.
For rights and the rule of law to be restored to America will require repentance from the cowardice, compromise, and inordinate party loyalty that brought us to forfeit our heritage of freedom in the first place. Only a spiritual awakening and reviving by the Spirit of God can restore the moral character and courage that will be needed.
Hopefully, such a restoration can be realized without bloodshed, but that may be for a future generation to discover.
By Robert Peck
Robert Peck is a landlord and political activist in Spokane Valley, Washington. He has served in political campaigns, promoted Institute on the Constitution classes, and organized public events to promote liberty and Christian constitutionalism since the 1990s. Robert counts Constitution Party founder and Nixon administration official, the late Howard Phillips, as a mentor and key political influence. Robert continues to write articles and currently serves in the ZChurch online ministry. His political philosophy is to “honor God, uphold the Constitution, and contend for liberty.”