Group seeks declarations of constitutional city, county

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
With a large audience behind him, Rusty Howell address the Brownwood City Council Tuesday morning.

Rusty Howell described the group of Brown County residents he’s part of as, simply, “concerned citizens” and “a group of citizens.” 

Howell and the group believe citizens’ constitutional rights are being threatened by the federal government’s COVID vaccine policies. The group hopes the Brownwood City Council and Brown County Commissioners Court will sign resolutions declaring the city as a “constitutional city” and the county as a “constitutional county.”

Howell, accompanied by members of the group, has made presentations to the Brownwood City Council and the Brown County Commissioners Court.

The topic is expected to be on the commissioners court’s agenda for its Monday meeting. Howell has asked for the topic to be on the Brownwood City Council’s agenda for a future meeting.

Howell, who lives in the Bangs area and works in construction, gave a definition of constitutional county and constitutional city:

“Everybody’s feeling pressure to get a vaccine, get the shot without question,” Howell said, noting that the Biden administration has mandated that businesses with 100 or more employees must require employees to take the vaccine.

“Our constitutional rights need to stay in place,” Howell said. “A  a constitutional county or constitutional city simply is a verification of elected officials and their stance … will you ensure our constitutional rights will stay intact and protected at the local level? Because it’s not being protected at the federal.”

At the Oct 12 Brownwood City Council meeting, a standing-room-only audience packed the council chambers as Howell made a presentation to the council. That led to a 90-minute discussion in which it was said that employees of large businesses will be losing their jobs because they won’t take the vaccine.

Howell told the council, “what I’m asking you to do is put this statement on your website that this a constitutional city. If the county signs on this, then that’s going to mandate that that’s a constitutional county. If something were to happen and government comes in and they bring the National Guard in here to go door to door and make sure everybody gets vaccinated, what are you going to as a civic leader?

“All I’m asking is to take a preemptive measure and let the rest of the world know that we stand with our county … you bring your national guard into our county, you’re overstepping your reach into our citizens’ rights.”

Howell asked Mayor Stephen Haynes if he would “stand with us and protect our constitutional rights.”

Haynes, who has been mayor since 2010, replied,  “I’ve been doing doing it for 12 years. I took an oath 12 years ago … and I have honored that oath.

“I have said I will stand beside the constitution. That is not saying I will sign the resolution you want me to sign … you’re asking me to take some additional oath in addition to the ‘yes’ I just gave you. … I can’t sign a document that says I’m going to be more constitutional. Signing something additional saying I will be constitutional undermines the constitution. It says that I have to do something further in order to be constitutional. I don’t have that choice. I have to abide by the constitution.”

Haynes also said, “I can’t address a problem that doesn’t exist yet. … Today is not the end of the discussion. It’s not the end of the dialogue.

Howell replied, “ I’m asking you, step up. We’ve got some people here losing their jobs in a few days and that’s a private business, but as a civic leader I would hope that you and the council members and the commissioners would all band together and say ‘we want you to know we love our citizens and we want to protect our rights and we’re asking you … will you stand up and stand for their rights to choose and let them make the choice?’ …   I’m just saying stand up for their rights, stand in unity and protect the citizens because if you don’t do it as a civic leader, who’s going to do it?”’