County hopes First Amendment resolution educates residents on rights
The Grand County Commissioners have signed a resolution reaffirming First Amendment rights in response to grievances about coronavirus restrictions at local churches.
Specifically, the resolution signed Tuesday affirms the rights of residents and visitors to Grand County to peaceably assemble, citing both the US Constitution and the Colorado Constitution.
“We — just as every elected official in Grand County — we swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States and of Colorado, and this just affirms that part of the Constitution,” Commissioner Merrit Linke said.
The resolution came to the board after the commissioners expressed an interest last week to support local churches and citizens’ rights to assemble.
Church leaders had expressed concerns that current public health orders restricting capacity at places of worship infringed upon their First Amendment rights.
According to the most recent state health orders, places of worship can have a 50% capacity up to 50 people per room, and 100 people for outdoor services. Facemasks and 6 feet of distance are strongly encouraged.
The resolution asks that no public bodies entertain any regulations or laws that would infringe upon First Amendment rights, including additional restrictions on peaceful assembly.
The resolution is similar to one signed during conversations about the Red Flag law supporting Second Amendment rights. The resolution itself will likely not change much.
County Attorney Christopher Leahy added that more than reaffirming the Constitution, this resolution helps to educate people about their constitutional rights.
“When we, or our law enforcement, is enforcing certain things, they roll up on a situation where people are peacefully assembling or at a house of worship,” Leahy said. “In addition to the public health laws — which are important and (law enforcement officers) need to consider — they also go through an analysis, just like they would with probable cause … and balance what the Constitution means right here.”
Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin was unable to attend the meeting, but Leahy said the sheriff conveyed the importance of protecting constitutional rights while enforcing the law.
The resolution was approved unanimously.
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