Douglas Andrews / Nov. 23, 2020

Sheriffs Say 'No Thanks' to a Cuomo Thanksgiving

The New York governor wants to limit the number of people his state's citizens can have in their homes.

If you believe Andrew Cuomo is a decent, well-intentioned, constitutionally literate public servant, you’d best find something else to read.

Because he isn’t. He’s thin-skinned, dictatorial, and constitutionally clueless. And were we less charitable, we might wonder how many Fredos one father is allowed to have.

To no one’s surprise, the elder son of the late Hamlet on the Hudson recently issued a Thanksgiving decree, and it didn’t go over too well with those who’ve been charged with enforcing it. What was surprising, however, was the willingness of certain New York sheriffs to go public with their criticism of the governor’s directive. To them we say, Bravo, and Happy Thanksgiving.

First, Cuomo’s decree, which he issued on November 11 via Twitter: “New York follows the science. We know indoor gatherings and parties are a major source of COVID spread. To slow the spread, NYS will limit indoor gatherings at private residences to 10 people. This limit takes effect Friday at 10pm.”

The governor gets credit for brevity, but nothing else. He predictably invokes one of the Left’s favorite tropes — that he’s following the science. But where, exactly, is the “science” behind the number 10, as opposed to, say, 12 or 20?

“I don’t think the Constitution allows for the infringement on the number of people in your own home,” said Fulton County Sherriff Richard Giardino. “He has authority to do a lot, but not to tell law enforcement to get into someone’s house and count who is there. My position as a sheriff is that I took the same oath the governor did. … I don’t take any issue with the governor’s intent … to do what is best under the circumstances, but as a constitutional officer I have an obligation to the constituents in my county to follow that law. … What I’m saying is, it sends a chill into my community that law enforcement is going to knock on their door, count the number of people, and arrest them.”

Giardino wasn’t alone. Two other New York sheriffs took to their departments’ Facebook pages to express their thoughts on the governor’s heavy-handedness. “I have no plans to utilize my office’s resources or Deputies to break up the great tradition of Thanksgiving dinner,” said Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard. “My office will respect the sanctity of your home and traditions, and I encourage you to follow your heart and act responsibly, as well as do what’s best for your family.”

Whoa. Acting responsibly and doing what’s best for your family. Why didn’t Cuomo think of that?

Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo opted for a press release to second-guess the wisdom — to say nothing of the constitutionality — of Cuomo’s decree. “I can’t see how devoting our resources to counting cars in citizens’ driveways or investigating how much turkey and dressing they’ve purchased is for the public good. … I encourage everyone to act responsibly.”

There’s that word again: responsibly.

Would that Governor Cuomo trusted his fellow New Yorkers a bit more and his instincts for tyranny a bit less. The spirit of this holiday is, after all, about as far removed from the arbitrary rule of small men as can be. It is instead, as President George Washington put it in his First Thanksgiving Proclamation, “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God.”

Washington’s proclamation is 456 words long. Not a one of them is about limiting the number of folks with whom we’re allowed to gather and give thanks.


Update: After initially saying he would gather with his own family, including his 89-year-old mother, Cuomo ultimately decided such hypocrisy was too much even for him. Now “he will have to work through Thanksgiving without seeing them.”

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