May 6, 2020
Shelley Luther, the Dallas hair salon owner who reopened her salon despite a shutdown order from Democratic county judge Clay Jenkins, was fined $7000 and sentenced to a week in jail for ripping up a cease-and-desist order and defying a temporary restraining order. (I’ll just make note in passing that across America, Democrat officials are letting real criminals out of jail because they might catch the virus there, and putting citizens who just want to work into jail where they might catch the virus because they didn’t do enough to keep from catching the virus. This is liberal logic in a nutshell, with the emphasis, as always, on “nut.”)
Luther argued that her salon was on the verge of bankruptcy, she had to make money to feed her kids and keep her home, and she was about to have to fire all her stylists. She also pointed out that she was following stricter safety guidelines than stores like Walmart that were allowed to stay open, and that hair salons are experts in maintaining sanitary conditions.
Judge Eric Moye, who wrote the restraining order, told her that if she apologized and shut down her salon, he might consider only fining her “in lieu of the incarceration which you’ve demonstrated that you have so clearly earned.” But she refused, replying, “Feeding my kids is not selfish. 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.”
The fine will cost her $500 a day until the salon is legally allowed to reopen, which under the new guidelines from Gov. Greg Abbott is this Friday. Ironically, Luther will be much more likely to contract the virus in jail, where 248 cases have been identified, than at her salon.
Judge Moye told Luther that the “rule of law cannot and does not operate when individuals take it upon themselves to decide” what they can and cannot do. I would remind the judge that the “rule of law” requires laws to be passed by elected representatives of the people, not conjured up by judges in defiance of citizens' constitutional rights.
Ms Luther may end up going to jail, but if so, it could be a Nelson Mandela-style Pyrrhic victory for the state. This case has received nationwide attention, with Luther becoming a symbol of the “Get back to work” movement. A GoFundMe account to pay her fine, bills and legal fees has racked up nearly $170,000 in donations as of this morning.
The judges who think they can intimidate Texans with threats of fines and jail don’t know much about their own state, or the Constitution. They could actually learn a thing or two from the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Tuesday, that court heard arguments in a challenge by the Wisconsin legislature to state officials’ authority to impose a lockdown. This is what Justice Rebecca Bradley asked:
“Where in the Constitution did the people of Wisconsin confer authority on a single, unelected cabinet secretary to compel almost 6 million people to stay at home, close their businesses and face imprisonment if they don’t comply… Isn’t it the very definition of tyranny?”
Memo to President Trump: I think we’ve just found your next Supreme Court nominee.