LETTER: Rights resolution meaningless except as militia ‘dog whistle’

To Ozaukee Press:

This is an open letter to Ozaukee County Board members, in particular those who represent my hometown of Port Washington: Lee Schlenvogt, Rick Nelson, Dan Becker and Dave Larson.

The “protecting the rights of Ozaukee County residents” resolution approved by the board is so overbroad and vague that it is essentially meaningless. It begs the question: Why did you think that this was a good idea?

The language leaves the county and its employees vulnerable to lawsuits for carrying out normal county duties. Anyone who subjectively believes his or her Constitutional rights have been violated might feel emboldened to sue. For instance, it could make it very difficult to discipline or terminate a county employee for cause. Other examples of actions that could be exposed to lawsuit by the wording of the resolution include sheriff’s deputies confiscating a gun from an unstable adult, judges imposing bail or remanding defendants to custody and the health department protecting the public from an individual with infectious TB.

No matter how you spin your actions in supporting this resolution, it seems like it is really a dog whistle to gun carrying militia groups. The sponsors of this resolution, Suprs. David Irish of Cedarburg and Joshua Haas of Fredonia, were quoted as asserting the resolution was not about Second Amendment gun rights, but about mask mandates and other Covid health restrictions. I don’t buy that. 

Look at the individuals and the organizations that promulgated and promoted this push for the resolution. Their agendas seem to be more about guns and intimidation.

Finally, I suggest that you take a few minutes to read the U.S. Constitution. One of the phrases that has been bandied about in the Covid restrictions debate is the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That phrase is in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. In the Constitution, the only reference to “life” and “liberty” is in the 14th Amendment that prohibits depriving any person of “life, liberty or property, without due process of law.” The word “happiness” is nowhere in the document. 

In the Preamble, the founders describe why we established the Constitution. I’d love to quote it here because I still find it quite moving. The articles that enumerate the powers and duties of the three branches of our government are also quite illuminating. And, of course, the amendments describe rights reserved to individuals and the states.

Ozaukee County residents don’t need or get any Constitutional protections from the resolution that you adopted, taking us back to my original question: Why did you think that this was a good idea?

Kassie McManus

Port Washington


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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