Howard ably has led Sheriff’s Department
By his oath of office, Sheriff Timothy Howard was required to swear to support the federal and state constitutions. He was not required to swear to enforce every cockamamie law the State Legislature chose to pass.
History teaches us the wisdom of that oath. Within the last hundred years, legislative bodies passed laws that barred blacks from sitting at white-only lunch counters, Jews from swimming pools and Irish from applying for work. Would we have expected the sheriff to enforce those laws or would we have expected him to uphold the 14th Amendment?
At issue today is not the 14th, but the Second Amendment. Good motives notwithstanding, the SAFE Act tightens a stranglehold on the right to bear arms. It is, therefore, an unconstitutional law.
In refusing to endorse Howard for re-election, The News has taken the position that an elected sheriff in New York State does not have the discretion to refuse to enforce a law that the sheriff believes is unconstitutional. That position would require a sheriff to violate his or her sworn duty to uphold the Constitution. It is not a valid reason to deny Howard an endorsement.
The sheriff ably has led his department through several crises and, as grudgingly recognized by The News, operations are now stable.