by Marissa Lorenz
At the most recent meeting of the Grand County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt a resolution affirming
the First Amendment rights of Grand County citizens.
The vote came after a number of citizens approached the board last week, as people of faith and members of local churches, frustrated by the fact that big-box stores were able to operate and large-scale protests were permitted to happen in recent weeks while church gatherings were being limited by state and local COVID-19-related restrictions.
“We’re here to motivate you to do the right thing,” stated Mark Line of Winter Park Christian Church.
“We’re here for all the churches in the county. We’re putting pastors and good people in bad positions to be disobedient and not obey. (…) Our rights flow from our Creator, not from any form of government. Political power emanates from the people, not from governors or any other form of collective representation.”
Commissioner Kristen Manguso, who had requested the topic as an agenda item, explained, “This is something that I would like for us, as BOCC, to strongly consider. The Constitution, to me, is guiding. (…) I truly struggle with the fact that we’re still trying to control gatherings, like church, parades, 4th of July, rodeos, that are naturally socially
distanced. I think we should put out a resolution that we support the First Amendment and the right to gather.”
Commissioner Merrit Linke expounded on the idea during both meetings, saying, “As elected officials, when we took our oath of office, we swore to uphold the Constitutions of the United States and of Colorado.
I am in support of reiterating our support of that First Amendment.”
And Commissioner Rich Cimino agreed, “I am happy to reaffirm to the people we represent where we stand. I hope we can do that in a peaceful way, as our Lord intended. I don’t think our motivation should be to send a message to other representatives who are duly elected by the people, like our Governor. That’s getting combative. I’d rather be supportive.”
In answer to a question this week as to if it would make any real difference in the current restrictions, Manguso stated, “This will not override the Governor’s orders. It will show that we three commissioners support the Constitution of the United States.”
“This is more than just stating, hey, we reaffirm the Constitution,” County Attorney Chris Leahy clarified later. “It helps educate people that when we or our law enforcement are enforcing certain things (…) in addition to the public health laws, which are important, they also go through an analysis and balance, what does the Constitution mean here?”