May. 14, 2020

HARRISBURG - Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) recorded the below video message to his constituents yesterday in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s accusations this week that Lebanon County public officials have acted “cowardly” by taking steps independently of the governor’s office to move the county to the “yellow phase” of the governor’s reopening plan.

“I support our local Lebanon County elected officials in their efforts to move our county out from under the governor’s oppressive and arbitrary restrictions,” said Diamond. “I hope this video message shows my constituents that I hear their concerns and I will not abandon them in this economic and public health crisis. Not supporting their desires to freely and safely earn a living, to pay their bills, and put food on the table for their families would fly in the face of my oath of office -- which, unlike the governor, I have not forgotten.”

Click here to view his video.

The following is the transcript of Diamond’s recorded message:

“Hello, I'm State Representative Russ Diamond.

“I wanted to respond to accusations from the chief executive of this Commonwealth, who inferred on May 11 that my signature on a letter in support of Lebanon County’s elected officials, and the people we collectively serve, to move the county out from under his oppressive restrictions, is somehow an offensive act.

“To be specific, the governor stated that I am “choosing to desert in the face of the enemy,” “surrendering,” that I have committed a “cowardly act,” am “engaging in a behavior that is both selfish and unsafe,” that my actions are whimsical, and that I am “acting in a most cowardly way.”

“I have taken an oath to both the federal and our Commonwealth’s constitutions. I wish to touch on just a few of the provisions of the latter which are staring my constituents right in the face. As they struggle to make ends meet, they are also making their voices clear to we, their servants, in how to move forward amid this crisis.

“It is never what happens to us that matters, nearly as much as how we react or respond to those circumstances. As such, I choose to respond according to the rules established to guide my behavior as a member of the leadership of this Commonwealth.

“Our declaration of Rights, Article 1 Section 1 reads: “All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness.”

“People are constantly reminding me that the liberties touched by this specific clause of our Constitution are being violated by the actions of the governor.

“Their ability to acquire property – to work for a living, contract out their services, and defend the investments they have in their properties, homes and careers, have been surgically removed by this governor.

“His actions, and his alone, have placed these liberties in perpetual jeopardy and turmoil. Meanwhile, there is no clear path to move forward from this governor’s policies, nor do my constituents have anything promising to hold onto for their futures here.

“Our Declaration of Rights, Article 1 Section 2 reads: “All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness. For the advancement of these ends they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think proper.”

“This power of our people to alter, reform or abolish this long established, and generally good government, is in serious jeopardy as a result of the actions of the chief executive. I dread the thought of what could happen if our current course is not altered in a meaningful way.

“The people of this Commonwealth may not only alter, reform or abolish this tyranny, but the means by which they may do it is virtually unlimited under this Constitution. “In such a manner as they may think proper” is quite broad, indeed. Do we really wish to test that provision and/or the rights of our citizens at this juncture? I for one, do not.

“Our Declaration of Rights, Article 1 Section 8 reads: “The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions from unreasonable searches and seizures, and no warrant to search any place or to seize any person or things shall issue without describing them as nearly as may be, nor without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation subscribed to by the affiant.”

“Under the influence of numerous pressure points, some would have the citizens of this Commonwealth submit to federal or other guidelines, including a recent proposal for such ideas as “contact tracing” and forcible quarantine of people evinced to be carrying a virus.

“We are already seeing evidence in other states, of police-state styles of action against otherwise peaceful people. This is both ridiculous and appalling, and no such proposal ought to be entertained for our people as any condition of a return to normal operations of our business or lives.

“Our Declaration of Rights, Article 1 Section 11 reads: “All courts shall be open; and every man for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation shall have remedy by due course of law, and right and justice administered without sale, denial or delay. Suits may be brought against the Commonwealth in such manner, in such courts and in such cases as the Legislature may by law direct.”

‘The presence of a mere virus is no excuse for our courts to be closed, denying our people full access to remedies under law for the violations of their rights the governor is leveling or threatening against them. Likewise, this right is to be provided without “sale, denial or delay.”

“Do we see the problem here? If not, simply read our state Constitution. I am under oath to support, obey, and defend this and other provisions of that document, and thereby protect the rights of our citizens. Our courts, in all 67 counties, need to be reopened immediately for all business.

“Our Declaration of Rights, Article 1 Section 12 reads, “No power of suspending laws shall be exercised unless by the Legislature or by its authority.”

“While the governor does possess authority delegated by the General Assembly to suspend some regulations and regulatory statutes during a declared disaster emergency, NO ONE can suspend the Constitution, nor make its provisions void during such an emergency.

“Our Declaration of Rights, Article 1 Section 20 reads, “The citizens have a right in a peaceable manner to assemble together for their common good, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances or other proper purposes, by petition, address or remonstrance.”

“For the governor to deem unlawful, or even to infer that any and all assemblies are regulated, or to put an arbitrary number to such a declaration – making gatherings greater than 10 or 25 or whatever number of people illegal, or subject to prosecution, or even criticism – is unconscionable.

“For whatever otherwise lawful purpose the people of this Commonwealth wish to assemble – to meet in government meeting rooms, to join their families or friends for discussions on how to protect themselves from this government – or just to grill hotdogs or celebrate a wedding or celebrate another cause – neither the General Assembly nor the governor of this Commonwealth have any authority or cause to interfere with the right of peaceful assembly.

“Our Declaration of Rights, by virtue of Article 1 Section 25, also makes everything I have illustrated here more concrete. Section 25 states in no uncertain terms: “To guard against transgressions of the high powers which we have delegated, we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government and shall forever remain inviolate.”

“My fellow Pennsylvanians, the term INVIOLATE is quite firm and unequivocal. It means that these rights are not even open for discussion or debate at this time.

“Every section of our Declaration of Rights – and I remind you that it is not a request, but a DECLARATION, is outside – excepted OUT – of the general powers of government. They are not just outside the purview of the General Assembly – who represent the people directly. They are totally outside of the purview of our court system to overturn, and they are entirely outside the reach of the governor to nullify.

“Even the governor’s extraordinary powers during a disaster emergency, because they are granted by statute created by the General Assembly, do not rise above the general powers of government. They cannot supersede or occlude our God-given rights as declared in our Constitution.

“The General Assembly may neither modify these rights, nor should we allow, for another minute, the governor, to do so by decree, in violation of every principle we hold sacred. “Inviolate” is the end of the matter.

“Our declaration of Rights, Article 1 Section 26 also reminds us that: “Neither the Commonwealth nor any political subdivision thereof shall deny to any person the enjoyment of any civil right, nor discriminate against any person in the exercise of any civil right.”

“Every limitation imposed by the governor on the rights of our people constitutes a separate violation being incurred – and for which our people are quite likely, and ought, to hold accountable not only the governor, but members of the General Assembly, for tolerating, or condoning it, should we continue to abide by the actions of this governor.

“When the governor states that actions I have taken are “choosing to desert in the face of the enemy,” and “surrendering,” and that I have committed a “cowardly act,” am “engaging in a behavior that is both selfish and unsafe,” that my actions are whimsical, and that I am “acting in a most cowardly way,” he is not just tossing those insults and mischaracterizations at me.

“He is, in fact, tossing those insults at the citizens of Pennsylvania that I represent – and that he represents – because it is their voice, and their desires, and their indefeasible rights, that I am acting on behalf of.

“The governor owes those Pennsylvanians a retraction, and an apology.

“May God have mercy on this government, and offer His blessing to the people of our fair Commonwealth.”

Representative Russ Diamond
102nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Alison Haas, 717.772.9843 /