California City Declares Itself a 'Constitutional Republic'

Officials say Oroville residents, businesses are fed up with COVID mandates
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2021 6:51 PM CST
Updated Dec 4, 2021 5:20 PM CST
California City Declares Itself a 'Constitutional Republic'
Downtown Oroville, California.   (Wikipedia/Podruznik)

(Newser) – A small city in northern California where many residents have grown weary of COVID mandates has declared itself a "constitutional republic." The declaration passed in a 6-1 vote this month by Oroville City Council states that the city will not enforce orders issued by the state and federal governments "that are overreaching or clearly violate our constitutionally protected rights," the Los Angeles Times reports. Vice Mayor Scott Thompson says the last straw for him was the vaccine mandate for students over 12 introduced by Gov. Gavin Newsom last month. He says he's not anti-mask or against other people getting vaccinated, but vaccine mandates are "crossing the line."

Thompson and other city officials describe the declaration as a way to send a message. Mayor Chuck Reynolds told the East Bay Times that in practical terms, declaring the city a republic "doesn’t change anything," but is "simply reminding people what kind of government we live under and that they do have personal choices and freedoms." UC Davis Law Professor Lisa Pruitt tells CBS Sacramento that the resolution probably doesn't have any binding legal authority. Schools in Oroville remain under the state's jurisdiction and city officials stress that they're not actually moving toward seceding from California or the United States.

Oroville, the seat of Butte County, has a population of around 20,000, with almost equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats. Vaccination rates are well below the state average and COVID infection rates are high. City officials say most business owners support the declaration. Opponents include Celia Hirschman, whose father died from COVID three months ago. "It says we’re cowboys, and we're not going to live by your rules," she tells the Times. "I don’t think it’s about open dialogue at all. I feel it's a dangerous measure that they have no business adding to our charter.” (Read more California stories.)

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