More than a dozen cities and counties in the United States are fighting COVID-19 restrictions by designating themselves pro-freedom “sanctuaries” or by simply refusing to enforce emergency orders.
The counties are primarily located in highly regulated states – like Michigan and California – that have suffered catastrophic economic and mental health impacts amid months of business closures and mask mandates.
Late last year, county commissioners in Campbell County, Virginia passed a “First Amendment Sanctuary” resolution, declaring that “(n)o Campbell County funds will be used to restrict the First Amendment.” No funding “shall be expended to aid federal or state agencies in the restriction of said rights,” it added.
“We’re not going to utilize county resources to enforce the governor’s orders,” a district representative from the county told local news. “We’re not going to aid the Virginia Department of Health in shutting our businesses down.”
At least nine other cities and counties have passed similar “sanctuary” designations, including Burrillville, Rhode Island, Delta County, Michigan, Kosciusko County, Carroll County and the city of Mooresville in Indiana, and multiple jurisdictions in California and Texas.
In Michigan’s Baraga County earlier this year, the county sheriff and other officials approved the “Baraga Manifesto,” slamming Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “clearly unconstitutional measures that treat human beings like herd animals.”
“Since March 10, 2020, the People of the State of Michigan have endured restrictions on their freedom which have not been seen in North America since the days of King George III and the American Revolution,” the officials wrote. “Enough is enough.”
“Accordingly, we hereby put the State of Michigan on NOTICE that we have no intention of participating in the unconstitutional destruction of our citizens’ economic security and Liberty,” they continued. “We further declare our intention to take no action whatsoever in furtherance of this terribly misguided agenda.” The manifesto echoes defiant local resolutions approved in Nebraska and Colorado.
At least one conservative county also has signaled its resistance to coronavirus vaccine mandates.
Assemblymen in Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska, passed a resolution in December stressing that the county supports vaccination on an “optional basis.” The statement, which passed 8-1, says that “the best interests of the state” are not served by mandating a vaccine that “many people are concerned… could potentially have serious harmful effects on themselves.”
State legislatures have pushed back against COVID-19 rules as well, with more than nine states enacting new restrictions of executives’ emergency powers or advancing vaccine passport bans since the start of the crisis.