Republic police chief: Mandated closures are ‘unconstitutional’

Loren Culp

FERRY COUNTY, Wash. — Despite health officials insisting social distancing measures are working, Republic police chief Loren Culp is calling on Governor Jay Inslee to reverse his order to shut down the state’s stay home order, an order he claims is “unconstitutional.”

“Just because there’s a crisis going on, doesn’t mean that we should give up our liberties and it definitely means that our elected public servants should not be trying to take our liberties away from us,” Culp told 4 News Now in a video interview.

Culp, who is running for governor in the Republican party, made the statement during a virtual meeting of campaign supporters. During the meeting, Culp referred to Inslee as a “would-be dictator.”

“Our Governor has placed draconian restrictions on the Citizens of Washington State that violate our Constitution,” said Culp. “These restrictions are not evenly applied but selective and allow him to pick winners and losers.”

In Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling to grant the state police power to protect public health and found “the liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States does not import an absolute right in each person to be at all times, and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint…”.

“There are all kinds of laws on the books. That doesn’t make them moral, that doesn’t make them right,” Culp told 4 News Now. “Get the information out there that the citizens need to make an informed decision for themselves. Recommend — strongly — that they don’t go anywhere, that they don’t be among a lot of people, because it will spread and make it worse. But don’t be a dictator and tell these citizens what they’re going to do.”

In his statement, Culp also claimed that the closing of gun shops threatens the safety of families who are unable to “deal with that threat” without a weapon.

Culp previously drew attention for vowing to reject an initiative that places restrictions on semi-automatic weapons.

“I believe, as with driving cars and accepting the risk of death, dismemberment and debilitating injury, Washington residents are smart enough to make the decisions that are most beneficial to them, their businesses and their families when it comes to a virus,” said Culp.

Culp isn’t the first law enforcement leader to call stay home orders unconstitutional. Earlier this month, the Bonner County Sheriff wrote a letter to Idaho Governor Brad Little making similar claims. In a statement provided to 4 News Now, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said “Governor Little’s stay-at-home order is well within the constitutional and statutory boundaries for such an order. The law in this area is clearly defined. I have no problems with providing a legal defense of the governor’s order and stand ready to do so should the need arise.”

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