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Idaho Mother-Of-Six Faces Jail Time For Repeatedly Ignoring State's Lockdown Orders To Have Yard Sale

@Christa Thompson/Facebook

Some people are really struggling to grasp the need for social distancing during a deadly health crisis.

One Idaho woman is learning how serious stay-at-home orders are the hard way.


Christa Thompson of Rathdrum, Idaho decided to hold a garage sale on April 9, 2020.

Idaho Governor Brad Little had already issued a stay-at-home order to help prevent the spread of the virus. The order made any large gatherings, including garage sales, against the law.

According to The New York Post, violating the order in Idaho is considered a misdemeanor punishable with a $1,000 fine and up to 6 months in jail.

Chief Tomi McLean of the Rathdrum Police Department shared a Facebook post about the incident with Thompson.

The post explained that officers arrived at the scene of Thompson's garage sale on April 9.

They explained to her the event she was holding was illegal at that time.

"The officer educated the homeowner that the yard sale was in violation of the Governor's stay-at-home-order, and they were admonished not to have the yard sale. A copy of the Governor's order was given at this time."

Thompson appeared to be following the order.

"On April 10, 2020 a second officer reported that the homeowner will remove the yard sale signs and that they were only 'sorting items' in the yard and not having a yard sale."

But not long after, officers spotted another advertisement for a yard sale at Thompson's home.

"On April 13, 2020 a posting on Craig's List stated that the homeowners were having a yard sale at their residence. An officer approached the family and reminded them that they were in violation of the Governor's order. He then issued them a written warning."

A few days later, officers saw Thompson actively holding a yard sale.

"On April 17, 2020 the Rathdrum Police returned to the home. A large quantity of items were still out in the front yard and sales transactions were occurring while police were present."

McLean also revealed in the post that other citizens were concerned about the gathering and had asked police to intervene.

"The Rathdrum Police Department attempted to educate and warn prior to issuing a citation. Rathdrum PD has also received several complaints from the public in regard to the yard sale. This was a large non-essential yard sale that filled the entire front yard and spilled into the back yard as well. These yard sale items could be seen from Highway 41."

Christa Thompson is now facing jail time and a heavy fine for holding the sale.

Her husband, Peter Thompson told The Coeur d'Alene Press that they family was just sorting through items on the front lawn. He explained that they could no longer afford storage units for their late relative's belongings and with six children at home, they hoped the sale would ease their financial burdens.

Mr. Thompson offered more details about the incident:

"They told us we couldn't have a yard sale, that it violated the governor's order. I asked them if we could sort some things out on the lawn, and if it was OK to sell a few things to some people. They said, 'Sure, as long as there's no signs or advertising or anything like that. So we didn't'."

Stay-at-home orders have had mixed reactions from the public.

Despite having issued a federal order for social distancing, President Trump has been encouraging people via Twitter to attend large protests and to ignore stay-at-home orders. More people are feeling emboldened to ignore the CDC's recommendation for social distancing, even at the risk of their own and other peoples' lives.

The reactions to the Rathdrum Police Department's post were mixed too.

@Patrick Linzie Record/Facebook


@Jeff Peugh/Facebook


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@Brooke Jena Lewis Siemers/Facebook

Do stay-at-home orders go against the constitutional rights of Americans?

It's a tricky subject, but according to Forbes, not necessarily. During the smallpox epidemic in the early 1900s, a pastor argued that a mandatory vaccine would be against his rights. The Supreme Court ruled against him, but with caveats.

In the 1905 case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the Supreme Court declared:

"There is, of course, a sphere within which the individual may assert the supremacy of his own will and rightfully dispute the authority of any human government, especially of any free government existing under a written constitution. But it is equally true that in every well-ordered society charged with the duty of conserving the safety of its members the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand."

Overall, SCOTUS decided the needs of the general public may sometimes be put over the needs of an individual.