By Leah Sander
WARSAW — Kosciusko County is now a constitutional rights sanctuary county.
At Tuesday, Dec. 22’s county commissioners’ meeting, commissioners unanimously passed a resolution and an ordinance giving the county the distinction.
The resolution, as read by County Attorney Ed Ormsby, supports “the protection of rights under the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Indiana.”
“Whereas the board maintains a strong commitment to all the rights of the people in the county as stated in the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Indiana, including but not limited to the provisions of said constitutions that are stated below and that are applicable at all times, including but not limited to the declaration of emergencies including but not limited to the COVID-19 pandemic,” read Ormsby.
“Whereas the board opposes the adoption of laws, ordinances, rules, regulations, restrictions and other governmental documents of legal force that unlawfully infringe upon the rights secured by said constitutions, whereas in the recent case of Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, versus Andrew M. Cuomo, governor of New York, the Supreme Court of the United States stated that ‘even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten,’ whereas the rights of said constitutions stated below appear to be the most in jeopardy at this particular time in our country’s history and that no one should construe the absence of stated right as protected by said constitutions, to mean that said right is not vigorously supported and protected by the county and its officials and officers,” Ormsby continued.
He then read the First, Second, Fourth and 10th Amendments to the Constitution, which were listed in the resolution.
The resolution goes on to declare the county to be a constitutional rights sanctuary county and “encourages and requests that all agencies, departments and officers of the county continue to uphold their oaths and take due care at all times whether during a state of emergency or otherwise not to infringe upon the rights and liberties of the persons and individuals in Kosciusko County as stated in the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Indiana.”
It was North Webster resident Scott Metcalf who first suggested the idea to commissioners. When he first brought it up earlier this year, the idea was focused on protecting the Second Amendment.
“It was right after when Virginia was having their gun rights rallies,” Metcalf told InkFreeNews. “All of the patriots were rallying in the capital when the governor (of Virginia) had passed some pretty unconstitutional laws.”
“There was a movement that was spreading called the Second Amendment sanctuary cities and counties and they were passing ordinances to make those laws unenforceable in the counties,” Metcalf continued. “I had seen that there were several other places in Indiana, several counties in Indiana that had started that process and I thought, well we’re a conservative area and we in Kosciusko County, we love our constitutional rights and we believe in freedom, so I thought it would be a good idea to approach Mr. (County Commissioner Brad) Jackson about that and see if we could get the ball rolling.”
Metcalf said that the pandemic and this year’s election slowed the issue prior to the commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday.
“I talked to him about a month ago and he said that they wanted to expand it to not just include the Second Amendment but all the amendments because they’re all important in one way or another. That’s how it became a constitutional rights protection act instead of just a Second Amendment act.”
Metcalf said he was “ecstatic” about the commissioners making the distinction.
“It was very encouraging to see so many people show up for that,” he said of the group at the meeting in Kosciusko County Courthouse’s Old Court Room.
Several audience members thanked commissioners, and some applauded the commissioners’ decision several times.
Metcalf said he might bring up the topic again before commissioners if he believed any new legislation coming out of Indianapolis or Washington, D.C., might merit it.
Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Travis Marsh said the idea also has support from Sheriff Kyle Dukes. He spoke at the meeting on behalf of the sheriff.
Dukes has been in quarantine for 15 days after he and one of his sons tested positive for COVID-19.
Dukes said he’s been asymptomatic and that he plans to return to work Thursday.