Gov. Roy Cooper and Alamance County are having a failure to communicate.
Cooper has complained about Ace Speedway in Alamance County opening to the public on Saturday, May 23 and said he was considering all the options on how to handle it.
Cooper according to Alamance County officials has not taken advantage of the option of communicating himself or having someone on his staff communicate with the folks in Alamance County.
From the press releases, the owners of the Ace Speedway went to the Alamance County officials for guidance, contacted the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services for guidance and contacted the governor’s office but received no reply.
In the May 22 press release, Alamance County Attorney Clyde Albright explained the county’s position stating, “The Exemptions listed in Section 4 of Executive Order 141 include activities constituting the exercise of First Amendment rights, which include the right to peaceably assemble. This exemption retroactively applies to earlier Executive Orders. Significantly, the Governor’s language in the Exemption has changed from ‘order’ to ‘strongly urges.’ The Governor recognizes that he may only urge people engaged in exercising First Amendment rights to practice social distancing and other disease control measures. He cannot Constitutionally limit the number of people who can peaceably assemble under the First Amendment.
“The Temporary Restraining Order issued last Friday by United States District Judge James C. Dever, III, in the lawsuit Berean et al versus Governor Roy A. Cooper, held that the earlier Executive Orders violate the freedom to attend worship services protected by the First Amendment. Because the right to peaceably assemble is also a First Amendment right, if Alamance County were to attempt to restrict the operation of a business not otherwise restricted by Executive Order 141 then such action may itself be in violation of the First Amendment.”
Judge Dever in his order stated, “There is no pandemic exception to the Constitution of the United States…”
Executive Order 141 by Cooper recognizes that and states, ”Worship, religious, and spiritual gatherings, funeral ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, and other activities constituting the exercise of First Amendment rights are exempt from all the requirements of this Executive Order and Executive Order Nos. 121 and 138, notwithstanding any other provision of this Executive Order or of Executive Order Nos. 121 and 138.”
It certainly appears that since freedom to peaceably assembly is protected by the First Amendment that it would not be covered by the executive order.