A group of state lawmakers urged police leaders to “enforce the laws according to your oath of office” in a Wednesday letter.
The letter doesn’t explicitly call on law enforcement to refuse to enforce Gov. Tim Walz’s COVID-19 orders. Instead, it asks police to “carefully consider the position you have been placed in.”
“We want to alert you that Gov. Walz’s actions, while lawful, are constitutionally questionable. He has put county sheriffs, police, and peace officers in a position where the law, as decreed by himself in Executive Orders, is in direct conflict with the Constitution, which you took an oath to uphold,” says the letter.
The document was sent to Minnesota Sheriff’s Association President Chris Caulk and Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association Executive Director Brian Peters.
“The Governor’s Executive Orders conflict with our founding principles, including the freedom to be secure in your home and property and the freedom of assembly — all free from government interference. The Minnesota Constitution makes it clear that the state’s Legislature is the body that enacts the laws and the governor vetoes or affirms,” the letter continues.
State Sen. Scott Jensen joined the four members of the New House Republican Caucus in sending the letter, which asserts that the governor has “exceeded his authority under the Minnesota Constitution’s separation of powers principle.”
“Simply put, one branch of government cannot exercise the powers of another. He denied the Legislature its rights regarding his orders, and he invoked emergency powers for a public health emergency, an authority he had no right to exercise,” says the letter.
The lawmakers believe Walz is “willing to push the public to the breaking point on these Executive Orders.”
“That means you will be the ones caught in the middle of a test of his authority. You are being asked to enforce laws against law-abiding leaders in your communities,” the letter concludes. “That is the position he has placed you in. We are not asking you not to do your job; we are simply asking you to enforce the laws according to your oath of office.”
The letter was issued in response to a memo Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington sent to the state’s chief law enforcement officers.
“In conclusion, Minnesota courts have repeatedly, and uniformly, upheld the Governor’s authority to issue Executive Orders during the peacetime emergency,” Harrington said in his memo. “They are constitutional and should be enforced as such.”