The stupid… it burns.
The town fathers in Stamford, Vermont — population 824 — have had it up to here with Gov. Phil Scott’s dictatorial efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Mad as Hell, not gonna take it anymore.
So, by a vote of 3-2, the town Selectboard has “terminated” the governor’s public-health measures. Talk about the mouse that roared.
The majority’s action was inspired by none other than Vermont Republican Party vice-chair (and former candidate for attorney general, thank God she lost) Deborah Bucknam.
You heard right. A top official of Phil Scott’s own party is peddling this brand of intellectual snake oil. Maybe someone will ask him about this at his next coronavirus presser.
And look who showed up to push this nonsense: Kevin Hoyt, Bennington’s number-one conservative nutcase. In a Facebook post, he said the vote makes Stamford “One of the first conservative autonomous zones in the Nation.” Love the brazen self-aggrandizement there.
Stamford’s action came after Bucknam posted an essay on — wait for it — True North Reports, arguing that Scott’s action violates the state constitution. Trigger Warning: You Might Lose a Few Dozen IQ Points By Reading This.
Vermont Statute Section 13(3) of Title 20 provides that the governor “shall” declare the state of emergency terminated in a municipality when the “majority of the legislative body of a municipality affected no longer desires that the state of emergency continue within its jurisdiction.”
… The terms “shall” mean that the governor has no discretion in this matter. He must terminate the state of emergency in the municipality when the majority of the selectboard or other legislative body no longer “desires” to be under a state of emergency.
This is the legal equivalent of proof-texting, in which Christian fundamentalists glom onto a single Bible passage, rip it totally out of context, and yell “The Bible Tells Me So” as if it’s an effective line of reasoning. Or good theology, which it’s not.
Of course, they ignore anything in the Bible that contradicts their assertion. As did Bucknam in this case. Scott’s chief counsel, Jaye Pershing Johnson, pointed to other passages that define the governor’s powers in such situations. Like this one:
“The towns and cities of the state and other agencies designated or appointed by the governor are authorized and empowered to make, amend and rescind such orders, rules, and regulations as may be necessary for emergency management purposes and to supplement the carrying out of the provisions of this chapter, but not inconsistent with any orders, rules or regulations promulgated by the governor or by any state agency exercising a power delegated to it by him or her.”
Seems clear. Also, as Sen. Dick Sears pointed out, Vermont is “a strict Dillon’s Rule state and not a home rule state.” Dillon’s Rule refers to a 19th Century judge’s decision which made it clear that local rule cannot supersede the authority of the state.
At least Bucknam has offered to represent the town pro bono in this clown car of a legal action, so the townsfolk don’t have to worry about the snowplows being mothballed midwinter for lack of funds.
The anti-maskers who swallowed Bucknam’s argument see themselves as the brave vanguard of a mass uprising against government overreach. In reality, they’re a handful of ignoramuses who’ll get laughed out of court just like Rudy Giuliani.