In response to the Chinese coronavirus, Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley signed a declaration closing many small businesses, closing in-person worship services (excluding churches unable to perform online services), and authorizing “the County to commandeer or use any private property as provided by law.” The grassroots are expressing their objections.

“King Whitley has decreed no church in Tarrant County,” True Texas Project CEO Julie McCarty posted on Facebook. “He’s always been an egotistical, power-hungry tyrant, so this is not surprising at all. If you think he’s doing it for the people, you’re wrong. He’s doing it because he can…because it’s a rush of power.”

“Many county judges are not thinking this through,” commented Plano resident Sue Denson. “All of the business closings just add to the panic,” Denson said. “Very sad knee-jerk reaction.”

“That is wild. Using what it says, it could have granted churches the option to hold meetings of 10 at a time throughout the day,” Mitchell Ryan added. “Other entities can operate like that. But church is banned entirely.”

“At what point does the restriction on size of the gathering, regardless of the type of group, become a First Amendment issue?” asked Douglas Pennington.

“I say, stay open.”

“Isn’t church considered a private gathering, not a public gathering?” asked Scott Bagg. “Wouldn’t it be against the Constitution to order that against churches?”

Attorney Warren Norred took issue with the clause authorizing the county to commandeer private property.

“In the future, I would strongly suggest that any document that says ‘I can take your stuff’ should reference a specific law to allow that,” he posted. “I don’t know to what specific Texas law that Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley is referring. He certainly doesn’t cite one. To my knowledge, there is none, but I stand ready ‘to be learned.’”

“What is the government doing right now to restrain spending and tighten their belts like the rest of us?” McCarty asked in an earlier post.

“They are focused on what WE need to do, how businesses need to be shut down, but what about them? Spend per usual? Can non-essential spending be cut to help offset expenses?”

“We absolutely have a responsibility to each other and to act responsibly as individuals in times like these,” former congressional candidate Chris Putnam posted. “But our rights are natural rights conveyed by God, protected by the Constitution, and we should NEVER allow them to be taken away by politicians regardless of how dramatic the circumstances.”

“Trust in God, not government, as our Founding Fathers intended, and by all means, do not abdicate your rights.”

“This is on ALL the commissioners. They are ALL responsible for this,” Joel Starnes pointed out. “Some are up for re-election this cycle. Just sayin’.”

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.