When Katherine Henry took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the state of Michigan, she meant it. The oath is part of becoming a licensed attorney and is shared by people serving the public at all levels—from local school boards to Congress.
On March 12, 2020, Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called a press conference that turned Henry's—and all Michigan residents—lives upside down. With COVID-19 at the forefront, schools were closed. A week later, the stay-at-home order was issued.
"Do you know where you were at 11:15 a.m. March 12?" Henry asked while leading a Constitutional Celebration at a charismatic church in East Jordan, Michigan.
Having connected the constitutions with Scripture and the intentions of America's Founding Fathers, Henry began writing letters to elected officials, attending public rallies and conducting interviews.
As she saw the state's executive branch continue to operate without the legislature, she formed the Restore Freedom Initiative to gather signatures for a petition to "amend the Michigan state constitution to: rein back in government power; prevent future abuses of power by the governor, legislature and courts (even in times of crisis, war or emergency); restore Michigan to a government of the people, by the people and for the people as required by the U.S. Constitution."
The process of moving the initiative forward involves educating the public on their rights and responsibilities for learning and defending the federal and state constitutions, and her role in authoring and advocating for an amendment to the Michigan constitution to stop unilateral leadership.
The process fills her days and nights with travel, public speaking, interviews, distributing petitions and offering training to the many volunteers who are taking them around the state.
Harvest Barn Church Pastor Kimon Criner offered to host Henry to help get the word out and give people access to the petition.
"When I started studying the Constitution years ago, it felt as anointed as the Bible," Criner said, noting that the country's founders based the document on prayer and religious freedom. "I invited Katherine Henry because I want the people in this church to understand how important it is to be an informed voter. Everybody should be informed."
Everywhere Henry speaks, she points out how the courts are tasked with upholding the state constitution, not with changing its meaning. She argued those points and more before the Michigan Supreme Court Sept. 9—184 days into Michigan's shutdown.
"Elected officials keep telling us this is the new normal, but how it works is broken," Henry said. "We can't let fear of a virus cause us to throw away the constitution. We the people are the governing authority. We owe it to each other to abide by the constitution to the letter."
Between the governor, lawmakers and judges, many Michigan businesses remain closed, masks are an enforceable mandate and employers have been given the right to require their employees to be injected with tracking devices, or chips. To date, the Michigan governor has issued 185 executive orders in 2020.
But Henry is not alone, and neither is Michigan. Businesses and ministries are suing states. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has passed a law limiting his own power to shut down churches and change elections.
Because of what Henry considers a widespread failure of the legislature, she plans to expand the Restore Freedom Initiative nationally.
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