On Tuesday, April 21st, Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney wrote: “As I have previously stated, I have not carried out any enforcement for the current stay-at-home order. Along with other elected Sheriffs around our state, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office will not be enforcing an order preventing religious freedoms or constitutional rights.”
Sheriff Fortney’s statement is the doctrine of the lesser magistrate demonstrated. This is the interposition of a lesser magistrate. He is doing his God-given duty and interposing against the lawless actions of Washington Governor Jay Inslee.
It is the God-given right and duty of lesser magistrates (lesser in their jurisdictional geography), to interpose when the law of God is impugned by superior magistrates, or when the liberty and property of those under their jurisdiction is threatened by the higher authority, or when they superior authority makes law, policy, or court opinion repugnant to the state and national constitutions.
Sheriff Fortney is acting in defense of the liberty and property of those under his jurisdiction. He is upholding his oath to the constitutions. He understands his oath is not of subservience to the state of federal authorities, but to the constitutions themselves. He is also demonstrating love for God – by whom our rights are given – and for neighbor.
Please take time to read Sheriff Fortney’s whole awesome statement.
Sheriff Fortney went on to encourage the people in their duty. He wrote: “I strongly encourage each of you to reach out and contact your council members, local leaders and state representatives to demand we allow businesses to begin reopening and allow our residents, all of them, to return to work if they choose to do so.”
The role of the people is massively important to the doctrine of the lesser magistrates. The people have a duty to prod and demand their magistrates act against eviland injustice. And to assure the magistrates they will stand with them if they do right in their possession, in their persons, and in their prayers – both publicly and privately.
The doctrine of the lesser magistrates is a Christian doctrine rooted in the historic Christian doctrine of interposition.
America’s founders established America as a true federalism. In a federalism all four governments established by God – self, family, church, and civil government – are important, and have their own role, functions, and limits.
In a federalism, there are multiple levels of government and multiple branches at each level, so that if any one branch begins to play the tyrant – the other branches interpose against that branch and resist them.
Those in civil government take an oath to uphold their state Constitution and the U. S. Constitution. They do not take an oath of subservience to the federal government, and they do not take an oath of subservience to the state government.
When any one branch makes law, policy, or court opinion repugnant to the state or national constitutions, it is the duty of the other branches of government to uphold their oath and defend the constitutions – and to resist and defy that branch.