The CV19 panic in Tennessee and across the US has prompted officials, in the name of the public good, to shut down local economies from sea to sea and bring the nation as a whole into an economic depression.
The depression is not just in the flow of money between buyers and sellers, producers and consumers. The depression is against the head of liberty which is intended to be protected by those holding public office.
The decisions to shut down the economy in Chattanooga is probably the most dangerous and most challenging one mayor Andy Berke has made. The same goes for Jim Coppinger, mayor of Hamilton County, with its population of 367,800 people. These are officeholders with good intent to serve the public, and to provide benefits for the citizens of the city in the county. One should assume their best motive in seeking election and holding public service office.
The constraints upon them provided by law protect them from making mistakes and doing violence to the people. Because we have law, these men are free from having to make decisions of the kind they have been making since mid-March when the CV-19 panic seized them.
In Tennessee the supreme law is the constitution. Lesser laws are in the Tennessee code annotated that authorize activities of the government under permission of the constitution. The laws in that set of books controls the government and certain business interests under the systems of privileges, licenses and permissions.
Generally in American jurisprudence, the only way a private citizens comes under authority of the state is if he obtains a special privilege or favor, or commits a crime. Other than that, the general public is free from any order, command, constraint or duty to the state, as noted in the
This body of law is a prophylactic shielding these officeholders in their work — so long as they stay inside the framework. Officeholders such as Gov. Bill Lee and mayors Berke and Coppinger should view these laws not with anger and resentment for their restraining effect, but with appreciation.
Out-on-limb policy discretion
When Gov. Lee feels growing concern about a novel virus that has gripped the world’s attention and sparked global dread, he can look at the law as his safeguard — a limiter on what he can do. With the rights of the people in view as given by God and protected by the constitution, he can look at authorizing statutes and save himself many troubles, many policy decisions.
Some “policy options” aren’t available to him. He can avoid yay or nay on proposals of his advisers. He looks simply at the black lines of type in the constitution, and in the statutes as to his possible options.
By looking to the law, he will save himself. And the people. Five Tennessee county mayors have refused to “save” their people from CV-19, and declined the “mandatory mask” powers ostensibly given them by Gov. Bill Lee. At least four district attorneys in Tennessee have said gubernatorial edicts are unenforceable in court.
They are preserving their reputations and political careers. They are preserving the law.
We are under threat today from police and sheriff’s deputies “taking orders” starting Friday morning to enforce in Hamilton County the “mandatory mask” edict of Mayor Jim Coppinger, served by his proxy, Dr. Paul Hendricks from the health department. http://health.hamiltontn.org/AllServices/Coronavirus(COVID-19)/Orders.aspx
These officials reject the constitution and the law. They do not view it as impediments to pursue their argument for public health, public safety, public welfare — arguments that are good to consider, but impossible to act upon legally by the means they’ve chosen.
My work as “blogger with the biggest pen” in Chattanooga and “the smartest guy with a bow tie” has been in two main areas of persistent police abuse. the rejection of the warrantless arrest law, and rejection of a true reading of Titles 55 and 65 regarding trucking and shipping. Cops use the transportation statute to harass and socially manage blacks, the poor, immigrants and the rest of us with a heavy emphasis on African-Americans.
Officials willingness to abuse the people under a health emergency is in keeping with these other misuses of power.
Deeper problem: Christians reject God’s law
At the heart of the geopolitical problem in Hamilton County and across Tennessee and the other states is the weakness and slackness of the Christian church. I won’t elaborate on this point here except to say that the Christians in South East Tennessee worship is a small God, whereas in fact he is a big one and ordains many things that God’s people have rejected. We should be big-Godder people, but are a small-Godder people. We are a generation of little faith. We are antinomian, or against law, and think there is a conflict between God’s law and God’s grace.
The church should start every sermon with God’s covenant, and every sermon should look to how the covenant applies to individuals and to cities and cultures. The church is starved for sermons and work attacking these false Jim Coppinger and Bill Lee gods that lord it over us.
If we reject God’s laws summarized in the 10 commandments, is it any wonder public servants reject not just God’s laws, but men’s ordinances, too?