Last month, the Delaware Supreme Court ruled to uphold a Delaware Superior Court ruling that Delaware sheriffs do not have full constitutional authority to exercise all powers necessary to conserve the peace, including the power of arrest. And that could be the final word on the issue, as the deadline to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court has passed.
The ruling came after Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher had initially filed a complaint with the Delaware Superior Court, seeking a declaratory judgment regarding the powers of the sheriff in Delaware.
Christopher argued that House Bill 325 — designed to clarify the powers of county sheriffs — was unconstitutional, and that the phrase “sheriff shall be the conservator of the peace” denotes a constitutional right, and that arrest power is a “core tool.”
The case was appealed to the Delaware Supreme Court following the Superior Court ruling that Delaware sheriffs do not have full constitutional authority to exercise all powers necessary to conserve the peace, such as the power of arrest and the power to enforce motor vehicle laws.
Christopher and his attorneys had 30 days from the Oct. 7 filing of the Delaware Supreme Court to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. He did not do so prior to that deadline.
Even though Christopher can no longer appeal to the federal Supreme Court, he said he and his legal team are considering other options.
“No decision has been made,” he explained. “We met initially to discuss what we were going to do. But no decisions were made as to what type of appeal we might do or if we’ll seek another route.”
Christopher said that a decision would mostly likely not be reached until the new year, but he is planning on continuing to pursue legal action.
“Even police officers and politicians, when they raise their right hand and swear to uphold the Constitution, that is a declaration and oath that should be kept. I take it seriously, and that’s why I’m going to continue on this.”
He added that he has continued to receive support from community members.
“I’ve been out to young people, old people, middle-aged people, and everywhere I go — with the exception of a few people that will tell me that I shouldn’t pursue this,” he said. “I’m hearing a lot from the constituency that many people are frustrated at what’s going on on the federal level, state level, and even at the local level, with regard to diminishment of rights. This whole thing has to do with that.”
Christopher said he has spoken with some people who do not support his legal action; however, he said those persons are few and far between.
“Many people will point their fingers and say, ‘Hey, there’s probably a very small ratio compared to the people I get support from.’ They point some fingers and try to say it’s about me — and that’s the last thing in the world that it really is, truth be known,” he said.
“Those people who are against it, I ask them a question: ‘Why?’ They can’t give me an explanation. They can’t tell me why, which tells me they were simply told something by someone else. I call it ‘borrowed opinion.’ They borrowed someone else’s opinion and make a statement about something that they know nothing of.”
Christopher said the whole reason he has been advocating for full constitutional authority to exercise all powers necessary to conserve the peace is because he strongly believes in the Constitution.
“I basically believe in doing the right thing, I believe in the Constitution, and I believe we should pursue that and not give up. If we do give up, what are we saying to our future? What are we saying to our children about the legacy we leave and how much attention we’ve paid to the most important things of today?
“I need to make sure whatever I do it is in defense of the Constitution,” he said. “Rights are granted by God himself, and whether or not people believe it or not, we’re all created equal by God. That’s what the Constitution says. There, inside of it, is contained everything that we can depend on to protect us.”