Officer Greg Anderson is Well Meaning but Misguided

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Officer Greg Anderson of the Port of Seattle Police Department recently posted a video asking law enforcement officers to reconsider enforcing social distancing orders. First off, I offer my thanks to Officer Greg Anderson for his service in the Army and as a cop. I respect his insight as a combat veteran. However, his analysis of the situation here is quite flawed.

You can watch the video above. I will address some of his points. Furthermore, I will counter them where I believe he is wrong. I’ll start at 1:45 into the video.

Officer Greg Anderson appeals to the… Constitution?

We’re violating people’s rights and taking money from them or even worse, arresting them and depriving them of their freedom when they are exercising their constitutional rights. So let’s talk about that.

Officer Greg Anderson

He goes on to read from the Declaration of Independence. Your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. However, the Declaration of Independence isn’t part of the Constitution. Hence, those aren’t constitutional rights. Moreover, the document is not legally binding. Therefore it has no significance to his point about the duties of a law enforcement officer.

Officer Greg Anderson is well meaning but misguided.

First Amendment Rights.

This is what I’m seeing. First Amendment rights. Telling people they can’t go to church. Freedom of religion. Telling people they can’t protest. Freedom of assembly.

Officer Greg Anderson

He is correct in his point about which rights the first amendment guarantees. However, he is wrong in his analysis. Earlier in his video, he points out that these orders come from mayors and governors. So let’s look at the text of the first amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

First Amendment, United States Constitution

Notice, Congress shall make no law. Hence, the first amendment does not restrict a governor from issuing these orders. Only Congress. Thus, his point on the amendment invalidating state orders is false.

Fourth Amendment

Fourth Amendment violations. Illegal traffic stops to check for papers. What are you? The Gestapo? Is this 1930’s Nazi Germany? You don’t get to stop people unless you have reasonable suspicion or probable cause that they have committed a crime.

Officer Greg Anderson

He may have a point on the fourth amendment. It’s not as clear cut here. However, I don’t think he’s accurate. First, you don’t need suspicion of a crime for a traffic stop. Most traffic stops are for civil violations. Speeding, failure to signal, etc. Secondly, cops pull truckers over all the time for paperwork inspections. Log book, bill of lading, and permit books. This is not a violation of the fourth amendment.

Thus, in the case of pulling someone over to check for essential status, the legality would depend on the type of violation. Is it a crime to violate the order? If so, probable cause or reasonable suspicion is necessary. However, if it is merely a civil violation, it likely wouldn’t be unconstitutional.

Officer Greg Anderson means well.

Officer Greg Anderson comes off as a good guy. Furthermore, he has fought for this country. Hence, I like and respect him. Moreover, he clearly means well. It is his intention to block tyrannical governmental overreach. This is a noble goal.

However, his analysis is flawed. His use of the Declaration of Independence as a legally binding document is inaccurate. Furthermore, his understanding of the First Amendment is flat out wrong. I believe that his understanding of the fourth amendment is equally faulty.

I feel badly that he appears to be losing his job. However, if you watch his Instagram video below, they seem to have tried to talk him down. He wouldn’t budge. Again, as we used to say in the Marines, good initiative. Bad judgment.

An officer who refuses to do his job is problematic. One who encourages others to join him in insubordination has to go. Thus, I believe his command made the right decision. Hopefully he lands on his feet. I wish him the best moving forward, but I just can’t agree with him here.

5 COMMENTS

  1. So, according to your reading of the first amendment as long as it’s not congress, anyone can restrict our rights with impunity. WOW, that is a fascinating and tyrannical view. It saddens me that Americans are so quick to justify the infringement of there rights. BTW over 200 years of court cases fly in the face of your analysis.

    • No, of course I didn’t say that. But of course, you can’t refute my statement that the First Amendment only restricts Congress from establishing a religion, or preventing the free exercise thereof. You don’t like that fact, so you attack me as an American who is “quick to justify the infringement of rights”. This is a ridiculous claim on your part, of course.

      Churches are still open. Much like restaurants can serve you food to go, churches can offer their services to go, for viewing at home. I’m just not one of these petulant children who always screams and cries about tyranny and infringement on rights when in fact no such infringement has occurred. So… do you like it when the personal attacks are lobbed back, or would you prefer to discuss the issues?

  2. Actually it is not a ridiculous claim when you say “Hence, the first amendment does not restrict a governor from issuing these orders. Only Congress. Thus, his point on the amendment invalidating state orders is false.” He actually says “telling people they can’t go to church” and you say that churches are still open. I would highly suggest that you do some research before you type. SOME churches are open, but in Tampa, RIchmond, Contra Costa, Houston, Memphis, St Louis, Miami…. I could literally fill the page cities, states, and counties where Pastors and church goers alike have been both sited and arrested for having or attending church services.

    Officer Anderson could have gone down the road of clarifying the fact that the 14th amendment and hundreds of court decisions have indeed made the first amendment incumbent upon state and local governments, but he would have had to make an incredibly long and boring video. His video was not directed or addressed to John Q Public but to LE officers who should already know this.

    I will leave you with the fact that when it concerns only this one issue Officer Anderson spoke the truth and you sir, lied.

    I will not waste anymore time arguing more points because you cannot be trusted to be truthful and also judging from the firestorm this article has stirred up I would guess that you and I are the only ones who will be reading it.

    • Link me to a story about anyone being arrested for going to church, would you please? I’m aware of legal action for violating crowd size ordinances, but not specifically for hosting a church service. The fact that the violation happened to occur at a church does not make the violation related to religion.

      Furthermore, the application of the 14th amendment to the Bill of Rights is only to the extent that court cases have applied it. You claim that I am wrong in my assessment that it doesn’t prevent governors from issuing said restrictions. So please, point me to the court ruling that has extended the application of the first amendment in this manner, would you please?

      • See, and there’s your hang up. I could’ve written a long article about all of the court cases that have incorporated the Bill of Rights to the States using the 14th Amendment. How some have been incorporated and others haven’t, or how others are incorporated only in states under specific circuit courts that have incorporated them.

        Instead I chose to keep it simple. The First Amendment doesn’t apply to the states. What does apply to the states is rulings that incorporate the First Amendment to them. And you have no ruling that incorporates this amendment in this manner. Hence, he is wrong.

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