Campbell County, Virginia has rejected Democratic Governor Ralph Northam's coronavirus restrictions - declaring itself a "First Amendment sanctuary" in a resolution which makes it the first locality in the state to openly resist Northam's orders.
The County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the measure last week in response to Northam's pre-Thanksgiving limits on public gatherings to 25 people or fewer, as well as an extension on the state's mask mandate to include children over the age of five. Restaurants are also prohibited from selling alcohol after 10 p.m.
Campbell County's resolution requests that the sheriff's department refuse to assist any official - state or federal - in "attempting to enforce the unconstitutional order of the Governor."
The rebellious decision echoes a 2019 measure in which the county (which voted 71% for Trump in the 2020 election) declared itself a "Second Amendment sanctuary" as one of several counties and cities which passed similar measures rejecting new gun-control laws in the commonwealth, according to WAVY.
A group known as the Virginia Constitutional Conservatives has played a vital role in the latest push to reject statewide guidelines, drafting a template resolution online that proposes bold provisions for constitutional officers to follow.
The template calls for local law enforcement to arrest “any State Police officer, State Health Agent, or Federal Agent” who attempts to enforce the governor’s order and for commonwealth’s attorneys “not prosecute the unconstitutional mandates prohibiting the people’s right to peaceably assemble.” Failure to follow these clauses “will result in the immediate removal of County funding.” -WAVY
The resolution approved by Campbell County's board excludes language threatening budgets of sheriff's departments and local prosecutors.
Matt Cline, a supervisor who represents the County's Concord district, called Northam's order yet another example of government overreach.
"The governor’s order restricts the First Amendment and this resolution is in support of the rights of the citizens. Local businesses are struggling, these are real problems, not a political issue," Cline said last Wednesday. "It isn’t right or left, these are real problems, just as covid is real."
"It’s important to note what’s not in this resolution as well," he added. "It doesn’t say be cavalier, or that covid is a hoax. And it doesn’t say don’t wear a mask. It’s the responsibility of the individual."
Campbell, located near Lynchburg, has had an average of 16 new COVID-19 cases per day in the last week out of its population of 55,000 according to the state's health department.