CREDIT: Freedom Foundation. Screengrab from https://youtu.be/6W_HuwbNPHE
Politicians across the country lit the fuse on a powder keg when they forced good Americans into house arrest for nearly three months. More than 40 million are now unnecessarily unemployed, countless businesses are permanently ruined, weddings have been postponed and, tragically, suicide rates have exploded.
Governors who barred people from worshiping and enjoying community during this difficult time have been caught traveling to get away from the situation they themselves foisted on the rest of us (Gavin Newsom in California, Ralph Northam of Virginia and Washington’s Jay Inslee, just to name a few).
And now, for the past few weeks, those who did what was asked of them until they finally got fed up and started quietly and peacefully going back to work, church and social gatherings, have watched helplessly as the cities in which they live have been torn apart and literally set ablaze by raging groups of anarchists whose objective is to destroy a society into which they don’t seem to fit.
If you’re not outraged, you haven’t been paying attention.
But wait, there’s more.
While communities across Washington state have had to impose curfews as early as 5 or 6 p.m. because of the chaos and destruction, Gov. Inslee has designated the state’s Department of Labor and Industries as his COVID stay-at-home enforcement arm.
Businesses that defy the governor’s edict can now be fined up to $10,000 by the agency.
You read that right.
While rioters smash windows, beat innocent bystanders to a pulp and threaten to move from the city centers to neighborhoods, Jay Inslee has turned the full force of state government on businesses that violate COVID orders that were never lawful in the first place.
Now we have the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, that is being described by Seattle’s mayor as a “block party” and “summer of love”.
It is beyond cruel to make use of imaginary powers to keep good Americans from engaging in capitalism, faith and community and at the same time let violent criminals take over streets and whole city blocks to destroy those same elements of American society.
Americans are a patient people, but we can’t take this anymore. That’s why Freedom Foundation attorneys last week filed for a temporary restraining order preventing Inslee’s next abuse of power against his well-meaning constituents.
The motion was filed on behalf of Slidewaters, a privately owned water park in the popular tourist destination of Lake Chelan, and the request asserts that the Washington Department of Labor and Industries cannot simply assume the authority to enforce Inslee’s stay-at-home order.
Inslee cited the emergency powers of his office as the basis for his actions, but under Washington law, a state of emergency can only be declared in cases of “public disorder, (natural) disaster, energy emergency or riot.”
Or riot. And yet the violence piles up with very few arrests against the real perps.
Slidewaters has a narrow, 100-day window between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends to make enough money to open for the following season. The owners employ nearly 200 locals, mostly young people who need the money and experience.
On June 12, our request for the temporary restraining order was denied, so the next step is to file an injunction. Meanwhile, the owners of Slidewaters can’t afford to wait until Jay Inslee decides to allow people to get back to some semblance of normalcy.
They are preparing to open in violation of the stay-at-home order.
The governor had no constitutional authority to impose his will on free individuals, and he has even less to delegate the dirty business of enforcement to a state agency that was never created for such a purpose.
Now the governor wants to compound matters by delegating to public employees who never lost a paycheck during this entire pandemic the responsibility for punishing their neighbors who are simply trying to make a living.
It’s despicable, and we’re confident the courts will put a stop to it.
Ashley Varner is vice president of communications and federal affairs for the Freedom Foundation, a free-market organization committed to helping free public sector employees from union tyranny.