An open letter to the Wyoming governor and state health officer,
As a pastor and citizen legislator, I am gently pushing back against variance No. 2 for Campbell County, not because I don't think it's a good idea, but because you have no constitutional authority to tell churches what to do. It's one thing for government to advise, it another thing to tell.
My church doors have been open for several weeks, variance or not. I've encouraged sick people to stay at home, and we have voluntarily put in reasonable restrictions and safe guards, not because we were told to, but because as a free man with inherent power as a citizen I thought it the responsible thing to do. I encourage all people to practice personal responsibly, including taking responsibility for one's actions.
As per the U.S. Constitution, Wyoming Constitution, and state statutes, you have no authority over churches and private places of worship. When it comes to worship, I don't answer to gov't, I answer to Christ. Because I believe in following the law of the land, I will resist any order that so blatantly flies in face of the 1st, 5th, and 14th amendment, for the good of the Constitution.
Let's remember all power is inherent in the people. To arrest or deprive a person of life, liberty, or inherent rights without due process is clearly illegal. Government's power is limited and enumerated. Citizen Mark Gordon, citizen Scott Clem, and citizen Alexia Harrist have more power than Governor Gordon, Representative Clem, and State Health Officer Dr. Harrist. That's not rhetoric. It's fact and it's law.
I appreciate your diligence in trying to ensure the people of Wyoming are safe. Violating the law of the land to keep people safe, because government thinks it knows better than individuals, is not responsible nor American. Nor is it lawful. We aren't China. We can never forget this. Therefore, I do not recognize the validity of the order as it pertains to churches. I don't need a variance to tell me I can go to church. It's a right, not a permission.
Finally, state statute clearly reads that maintaining quarantines in cases of pandemic are to be paid out of the public treasury. The government has deprived many business owners of liberty and property to maintain a quarantine. It has seized their property and their right to generate revenue, and has not justly compensated businesses for their loss, as per the 5th amendment which reads in part, " ... nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."
I'm encouraging Wyoming businesses who were affected by these health orders to send their bills to the state, and if need be, file suit to collect what the government owes them. If government is going to take people's property, it is long standing precedent and law that the government pay for it. I do not look forward to appropriating taxpayer dollars for remuneration of property taken by the government, but that is a consequence of the actions taken. It's the right thing to do. To do anything less is theft. It is wrong for the government to take or withhold property, however temporary, and not pay for it. After all, the code of the west, which we admire, encourages us to "be tough, but fair." Wyomingites are known for being fair. Let's ride for the brand.
Representative Scott Clem,
Wyoming House District 31