ICWA News & Views

Weekly Stories about What’s Happening in Washington State and Stories of Interest to Washingtonions

by Gerald Braude

Clallam County Sheriff Discusses Constitutional Rights

At the home of Informed Choice Washington members Sue and Ron Coffman, eleven residents on the North Olympic Peninsula gathered with County Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict on March 17, 2022 to discuss their constitutional rights concerning Governor Jay Inslee’s two years of COVID-19 mandates. 

Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict

“Many people have called me and said, ‘Sheriff, you are not obligated to enforce something that is not constitutional,’ ” Benedict told the group. Those callers went on to tell him that was his oath of office. “My response to that is to say, ‘What makes it unconstitutional? Is it what you think? Is it what a group of people think? Or is there a process for this?’ Actually, there is a very strict process for what is and what is not constitutional. And I have to tell you, as smart as I think I am, I can’t say this is unconstitutional.” 

A resident in the group objected, pointing to the 1803 US Supreme Court case of Marbury versus Madison. “That ruling passed a law that anything that is against the constitution is null and void. Those mandates are not law according to our supreme court and constitution.” 

Benedict responded, “You have a belief that goes straight to this, but it needs to be litigated. And it could be. Somebody needs to bring that up. So I will just tell you if it is your sincere belief that mandates such as these are unconstitutional, it has to be litigated through the supreme or appellate courts.”

Benedict then discussed the current root of his predicament by referring to the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 43.06.220. 

“Nobody in our legislature has a problem with how the governor used the emergency. The problem has been how it got extended, and essentially what happened in it is so true. It is true in our country. It was true in the Roman Empire: Its legislative bodies allowed their power to be usurped by the executive branch, and that’s exactly what’s happening in our country at the federal and the state level. Our senators and congressmen—I’m going to use a technical term here—are too chickenshit to debate and vote on these issues. Frankly, I agree with you folks a little bit on that the emergency law was somewhat abused. But if we believe in process, Sheriff Benedict can’t say anything about this. Somebody needs to have standing. Somebody needs to bring it up to where’s there’s a court decision.” 

The discussion moved on to specific enforcement of the mandates. 

“Here’s how I made everybody happy,” Benedict said. “I got together with Alison Berry, the county health officer, and said, ‘I am not going to arrest or cite or impinge on the freedom of anyone who chooses whether or not to be vaccinated or wear a mask. I recognize the right of a private business or government entity to make policies that are enforceable.’ In other words, if a private business, such as restaurant, wants to enforce the mask mandate, I’m not going to stand in their way. I say to a to a customer, ‘The owner is requesting that you wear a mask. If you don’t want to, you must leave. If you refuse to leave, we will arrest you for trespassing.’ This is also the same thing with vaccine mandates. The area where it gets dicey, I freely admit, is in county spaces, which are public. As a matter of fact, in the county courthouse, which I am responsible for, even though we have signs up that say that masks are mandatory, we never ask anyone to wear a mask if they chose not to.” 

A resident said, “Jefferson County doesn’t do that. They have masks for you in the courthouse, and they ask you to put them on.” Benedict said, “That’s Jefferson, and I can’t talk to that.”

Benedict explained his enforcement reasoning. “The mandates are goofy such as there are exceptions for health reasons, religious reasons, and so on. If someone is not wearing a mask, I’m going to assume that it’s for one of these exemptions. If it’s private property, I don’t recognize exemptions because I am the agent of that property owner who has the right to put conditions on who enters his house. You will be happy to know that, to my knowledge, with the exception of four or five arrests in Pullman, no one in the state of Washington has been arrested for not wearing a mask or not being vaccinated.” 

The residents pointed to times when the police arrested customers from COSTCO and the Port Townsend Food Co-op for refusing to wear a mask.

“That’s for trespassing,” Benedict said. “As for the governor’s orders and mandates, no one has been cited for that. That’s the kind of standing that can go to as far as the Washington State Supreme Court because the RCWs we’re talking about are state laws.”  

Bill 5909 Does Not Pass

SB 5909 reads as follows: 

“Concerning legislative oversight of gubernatorial powers concerning emergency proclamations and unanticipated receipts.” 

On January 28, 2022, the bill to limit the governor’s emergency powers drew enough interest that 5,457 Washington residents made their positions known through a virtual public hearing. Most were in favor of the legislation. 

At around 1 a.m. on Friday, March 4, floor debate on SB 5909 began. After approximately thirty minutes of discussion on a proposed amendment, the debate was stopped with no given explanation. The bill will retain its place on the second reading calendar for the next legislative session. In the meantime, lawmakers will be free to hit the campaign trails and start raising money for the first day of November elections.  

Washington Deaths Following COVID-19 Shots

On Friday, March 18, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its latest data for the United States and its territories on adverse events following COVID-19 shots that were submitted between December 14, 2020 and March 11, 2022 to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). 

The data included a total of 25,641 deaths, 198 of those deaths occurring in Washington. Below is the age breakdown of deaths: 

6-8 years: 1

17-43 years: 6

44-64 years: 40

65-74 years: 37

75-plus years: 93

Unknown: 21

Mary Holland Thanks Informed Choice Washington

In the March 16, 2022 This Week show with Mary Holland, Children’s Health Defense president, and Polly Tommey, co-producer of “Vaxxed,” Mary expressed her gratitude to Informed Choice Washington for when the Technical Advisory Group voted against requiring COVID-19 shots for students from kindergarten through twelfth grade in the state’s schools. 

‘This Week’ With Mary + Polly: ‘This Is the Conversation Everyone Is Having Right Now’ + More • Children’s Health Defense (childrenshealthdefense.org)

The show’s hosts comment on headlines around the globe. They were referring to a March 9 article appearing in The Defender. 

Washington Health Board Advisory Group Recommends Against COVID Vaccine Mandate for K-12 Students • Children’s Health Defense (childrenshealthdefense.org)

In a split decision—seven against, six in favor, and four undecided, the Technical Advisory Group voted to recommend against adding the vaccine to the state’s administrative code when it presents its findings to Washington’s Board of Health in April.

Following the formal presentation of the group’s findings to the Board of Health at its next meeting, scheduled for April 13, the board is expected to approve or reject the recommendation.

While paying gratitude to the efforts from Informed Choice Washington, Mary Holland discussed the difficulty of their task: 

 “A few years ago, I went out and met with my friends at Informed Choice Washington, and we went to a Board of Health meeting, and it’s basically all insiders.  Some people from the community come, but they don’t get to vote. Considering that this is what I call ‘Gates country,’ for this is where Bill Gates lives, and Bill Gates has a big impact on politics in the state of Washington, and considering that Governor Inslee is all behind the vaccine program, the notion that right now, in that state, this advisory group is against the childhood schedule is great news. This is great news to protect those children, and to leave it up to the parents and not to the state. Let’s hope that we see that in other blue states. This actually a little bit surprising to be honest with you. I know that Informed Choice Washington was one of the advocacy groups that worked hard on this, and this is absolutely good news.”  

Since Mary Holland mentioned Gates and Inslee in the same breath, this is a good time to add that both of them have ties to the World Economic Forum. Gates is a 1993 graduate of the Global Leaders for Tomorrow program. Inslee’s bio is listed on the World Economic Forum web site: 

Jay R. Inslee | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)