Dear Governor Lee,
I am writing to you regarding Executive Order 83, Order to Facilitate the Continued Response to COVID-19. I am very concerned about the wording and the complete absence of reference to the rights of the people and limits of authority as identified in the Constitution of the State of Tennessee. Whether intentional or accidental your Executive Order ostensibly creates an unlimited authority for the National Guard to enforce the involuntary relocation and quarantine of the people of Tennessee (see sections 8-18). Your Order also removes all recourse of the people to inspect the procedures and facilities created with this seemingly unlimited authority (see section 21).
I am writing to ask you to amend Executive Order to make clear your commitment to secure the Rights of the People in the face of any emergency. Among the sections of the TN Constitution that must be referenced in your amendment to Executive Order 83 are:
- Article I
- Section 7. That the people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions, from unreasonable searches and seizures…
- Section 8. That no man shall be taken or imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties or privileges, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any manner destroyed or deprived of his life, liberty or property, but by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land.
- Section 6. That the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate…
Article XI section 16 of the TN Constitution establishes that the rights enshrined within the TN Declaration of Rights “shall never be violated on any pretense whatever.” That must include any real or perceived medical emergency. Section 16 continues to confirm this absolute by establishing that “everything in the bill of rights contained, is excepted out of the general powers of the government and shall forever remain inviolate.”
The solution to any crisis can never be allowed to displace the commitment to individual liberty that stands as the cornerstone of American government. The Constitution of TN was created to set certain lines that cannot be crossed by government, even in an emergency.
I am asking you to do the right thing and fulfill your oath to the people. I will thank you in advance for your decision to amend this Order and protect the rights of the people.