In America, the judicial branch serves to interpret the Constitution and the law, and to fairly and impartially conduct trials both civil and criminal in accordance with both. And then there was the Coronavirus and nationwide shutdown orders, even in Texas, where Shelley Luther, the owner of a hairstyling salon, found herself under arrest for reopening her salon a few days prior to the official reopening day of such businesses.
Standing before Dallas County Judge Eric Moye, she was given three choices, as Fox News reports:
She could offer an apology for selfishness, pay a fine and shut down until Friday, or serve jail time.
While criminal defendants often apologize to victims of their crimes, sometimes out of genuine remorse, more often as a ploy in the hope of leniency, judges do not have the authority to demand an apology or to compel defendants to abase themselves. In cases like this, where there was no victim and the classification of the offense as criminal is questionable at best, such judicial demands amount to an exercise of personal pique rather than defense of the law. Luther dared to behave like a free citizen:
I have to disagree with you, sir, when you say that I’m selfish because feeding my kids is not selfish,’ she told the judge. ‘I have hairstylists that are going hungry because they would rather feed their kids. So sir, if you think the law is more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with your decision. But I am not going to shut the salon.’
So the judge threw her in jail for seven days and fined her $7000 dollars. Fortunately, rational heads prevailed:
On Wednesday, [Governor] Abbott, the state’s Attorney General Ken Paxton and Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick called for Luther’s release after she was jailed by Dallas County State District Judge Eric Moyé. The officials said he had abused his discretion and emphasized that the woman was keeping her business open in order to feed her family.
‘As a mother, Ms. Luther wanted to feed her children,’ Paxton said in a letter to the judge asking him to free her. ‘As a small business owner, she wanted to help her employees feed their children. Needless to say, these are laudable goals that warrant the exercise of enforcement discretion.’
No kidding. That’s a statement of sanity all too rare these days. Fortunately, there was more to be had:
The Texas Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the release of salon owner Shelley Luther, who was jailed for opening in violation of the state’s rules, as Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order retroactively eliminating jail time as a consequence for violating the state’s coronavirus restrictions.
Shortly after Abbott’s announcement, the Supreme Court of Texas ordered Luther’s release. She was released from jail Thursday afternoon.
‘Throwing Texans in jail who have had their businesses shut down through no fault of their own is nonsensical, and I will not allow it to happen,’ Abbott said in a statement. ‘That is why I am modifying my executive orders to ensure confinement is not a punishment for violating an order. This order is retroactive to April 2nd, supersedes local orders and if correctly applied should free Shelley Luther.’
‘It may also ensure that other Texans like Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia and Brenda Stephanie Mata who were arrested in Laredo, should not be subject to confinement,’ Abbott said of the order. ‘As some county judges advocate for releasing hardened criminals from jail to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is absurd to have these business owners take their place.’
Some governors obviously have their heads on squarely.
On Thursday night, Abbott said on Fox News’ ‘Hannity’ that citizens’ liberty needed to be balanced with the need to slow the coronavirus’ spread.
‘There is [a balance that needs to be struck], Sean, and that is why we are now in Texas opening up things like hair salons and barbershops,’ Abbott told host Sean Hannity. ‘But Sean, you need to know this: The problem that we’re dealing with is far worse than what you’ve articulated in Dallas County.’
Particularly since we now know the response to the virus was based on wildly wrong computer modeling and almost certainly politically driven by those that want to use the horrific economic damage wrought for political ends, it’s past time to end our self-imposed national suicide.
Fortunately, a gofundme account has raised far more than the $7000 dollar fine, so Luther won’t be even further under water. Americans have, by word and deed, begun to declare shutdowns over, regardless of what their self-imagined elite political masters say. And in another encouraging development, more and more police agencies have refused to enforce anti-American political edicts.
Another facet of the continuing coup attempt appears to be, justly, failing, with Americans like Greg Abbott and Shelly Luther leading the way. That leadership of this kind is occurring in Texas is unsurprising, and even if a bit late, welcome.