Rhode Island town challenges coronavirus restrictions as unconstitutional

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo at a news conference June 22 in Providence.
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo at a news conference June 22 in Providence.David Goldman/Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island town has passed a resolution designating itself a “First Amendment Sanctuary” and declaring that the governor’s executive orders, designed to control what councilors refer to as the “Wuhan-origin” coronavirus, are unconstitutional.

The Burrillville Town Council passed the measure 5-2 on Wednesday night.

“When these executive orders infringe on the constitutional rights of the people of Burrillville, I believe the Town Council has a right to protect them and should not fund those executive orders,” said Councilman Donald Fox, who voted in favor of the measure, according WJAR-TV.

Some were concerned about their effect on the economy. “Our local businesses, many of them are being crushed by this,” Councilman Stephen Rawson said.


Councilman Dennis Anderson, who voted against it, told The Providence Journal he agreed there has been some overreach by political leaders, but “I was pretty sure this would get misconstrued and create unnecessary controversy.”

A spokeswoman for Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo defended the executive orders.

“The measures we’ve taken — which are fully constitutional — have drastically slowed the spread of the virus, saved lives, and allowed for the gradual reopening of our economy," Audrey Lucas said in a statement.

Burrillville, with about 16,000 residents, declared itself a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” last year.