VALE – Lincoln County Commissioner, Carrol Mitchem, owns Mitchem’s Kitchen, a family restaurant that’s been hobbled for two months under Governor Roy Cooper’s executive orders. On Monday, after a judge smacked down Cooper’s in-person church ban as unconstitutional, Mitchem decided he’d open his doors too.
Mitchem felt the time to take a stand had come. His customer base was happy, the dining room was full, and WBTV reports that a couple former state lawmakers even stopped by.
“[…] “At a certain point and time I felt like it was an issue and someone needed to stand up,” Mitchem told WBTV outside the restaurant on Monday, “so I took that step yesterday when I once heard that the churches were opening up I thought, ‘well maybe the time and opportunity for me to do that too,’ so I decided to open my dining room to the public.”
“Everybody is happy, they’re real happy about it and they’re glad that somebody took a stand to go against the order of the governor, which not all law is order,” he continued.
Under Phase 1 of North Carolina’s Stay-at-Home orders, restaurants are to serve curbside and pick-up orders only.
WBTV stopped by the restaurant Monday afternoon and saw that indeed the dining area was open. Nearly every table had customers seated. […]
Even two former legislatures from Raleigh stopped to show their support.
“We have to support folks like this who stand up and stand out people who stand up for their Constitutional rights and their ability to make a living.” said former Majority Leader in the North Carolina House Mike Hager. […]”
Now, prior to the federal judge halting Cooper’s unconstitutional ban on in-person church services, several county sheriffs had made it known they would not enforce such unconstitutional orders. In Lincoln County, however, the sheriff is more of a rule follower. He cited state statute and the emergency management act as he cited Mitchem for violating the emergency orders.
Stated Sheriff Bill Beam:
“[…] “I may not personally approve of all the Emergency Orders issued by Governor Cooper but North Carolina General Statute allows provisions for Governor Cooper to issue orders during a State of Emergency. NC General Statute 166A states, local law enforcement SHALL enforce these orders.” […]
Governor Cooper has the authority under 166A to remove elected officials,” Sheriff Beam said. “No law enforcement officer has the authority to decide which laws are and are not constitutional. The NC courts and ultimately the Supreme Court makes these decisions. I have written Mr. Mitchem a citation for violation of Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 138.” […]”
The sheriff is correct.
If one follows the letter of the law, as Sheriff Beam has, local law enforcement should be enforcing these orders as an extension of the emergency management laws that give the governor wide emergency powers. He’s also correct that it is the court system that will technically issue opinions about whether such orders are constitutional or not.
Makes sense, no? Except that the inherent rights of individuals are, as described by the founders, “unalienable.” In other words, they are unable to be truly taken away by the government and, importantly, you cannot even give them away.
The Bill of Rights, and other core protections of liberty in our governing documents, are the the anvil that all laws or orders should be judged against. The first line of judgement comes from ‘We the People.’ At what point do executive decrees become so blatantly unconstitutional that state statue and executive orders become moot?
That point is now for Mitchem:
“I plan on being open,” Mitchem said. “I don’t plan on closing unless I’m forced by somebody, and if they want to write a citation, that’s fine with me write it. That don’t bother me.”
More and more people are beginning to feel a lot like Mitchem, feeling it is time to take a stand against this overreaching micromanagement of our lives by an executive that amounts to an abuse of power and a direct attack on the blessings of liberty.
Yet, even more people should be asking about the state statutes Sheriff Bill Beam cited in enforcing Cooper’s orders.
We have a Republican majority in the N.C. General Assembly, full of state lawmakers that have expressed the same frustrations and righteous indignation over Governor Roy Cooper’s draconian lockdown orders. These lawmakers push back in the press, decrying the one-size-fits-none approach and the assault on our core rights, like the free exercise of religion, and lamenting the pain and suffering being arbitrarily forced upon the people who are being prohibited from making their own decisions about their livelihoods.
Why haven’t they amended the N.C. Emergency Management Act to clarify constitutional limits on the governor’s emergency powers under the act? Why haven’t the leading lawmakers that are so opposed to these detrimental orders FIX THE LAW so that no executive can abuse emergency powers in violation of our core individual rights?
The legislature has been back in session for a couple weeks now. They have passed bills to allocated billions of dollars in emergency relief funds, including emergency loans for small-business owners like Carrol Mitchem that were forced by selective, inconsistent executive edicts to sacrifice their livelihoods. Yet the operative tool that enables the authoritarian measures passed by Governor Cooper in the first place — The NC Emergency Management Act — has not been touched.
Why not? Ask your state legislators here.