News and Commentary

NY Sheriffs Slam Cuomo’s Thanksgiving Restrictions, Say They Won’t Enforce

"I couldn’t in good faith attempt to defend it court, so I won’t."
Grandmother presenting turkey to her family at the dinner table
Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

Several sheriffs in upstate New York have declared that they will not enforce Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new executive order limiting private gatherings on Thanksgiving.

Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino, who has a law degree, went so far as to question the legality of Cuomo’s 10-person cap on gatherings, even in private residences.

“Frankly, I am not sure it could sustain a Constitutional challenge in Court for several reasons including your house is your castle,” the sheriff wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday.

“I have received numerous calls, texts, messages, posts and emails inquiring about Governor Cuomo’s Thanksgiving Executive Order and whether the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office intends to enforce it,” he wrote.

“First an Executive Order applying directly to citizens for their private conduct is usually not a law in the sense that there are no penalties attached and you can’t be arrested. Businesses are different. An Executive Order can authorize the State Health Department, the State Liquor Authority, the State Department of Taxation and Finance and other similar Agencies with jurisdiction over businesses, to write up, suspend or revoke their licenses and\or fine a business for a violation,” he wrote.

“With regard to the Thanksgiving Executive Order, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office will NOT be enforcing it against our County residents,” Giardino wrote. “And as a Sheriff with a law degree I couldn’t in good faith attempt to defend it Court, so I won’t.”

“Who and how many people you invite in to your home is your business, unlike outdoor gatherings which may receive a police response if disorderly or other violations of public nuisance laws occur,” the sheriff wrote, noting that his department does not have the resources to obtain a search warrant. “[T]o enter your home to see how many Turkey or Tofu eaters are present is not a priority. We won’t be doing that.”

Others in the state have also vowed not to enforce Cuomo’s executive order. Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy said last week that his deputies won’t be enforcing the Thanksgiving lockdown order, and on Monday, Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo also criticized the order.

“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,” Zurlo said in a press release.

In addition, Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard said his office would ignore the indoor gathering limit, the New York Post reported.

In his Facebook post, Giardino said “monitoring Family Dinners aren’t our priority.”

“So don’t feel a need to hide cars, cover with leaves or walk 3 blocks so your house doesn’t become a target of” Cuomo’s executive order. “I trust people in Fulton County to use their own judgement on who and how many people they invite. Obviously if you have high risk family members you will weigh the risks to your loved ones versus the reward. Thanksgiving is just that, a time to give thanks for what we have or have received over the year.”

Related: Cuomo Crackdown: Only 10 People Allowed In Home; Former Lt. NY Gov: ‘Defy His Petty, Despotic Edicts’

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