Jewell Hamilton, Minot resident, had her writ of mandamus against Governor Doug Burgum denied by the North Dakota Supreme Court (NDSC) earlier this month. According to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, a writ of mandamus is “an order from a court to an inferior government official ordering the government official to properly fulfill their official duties or correct an abuse of discretion.” Hamilton believes her former government employer, Quentin N. Burdick Job Corps Center in Minot, violated her rights.
Hamilton’s path to filing a writ against the governor began in December 2020 when she began working at the Job Corps, a job switch she made for her health. Then, in August of this year the Job Corps enacted a policy that required all employees to submit to the Covid-19 injection or submit to twice weekly PCR testing on her own time and paid for out of her own pocket. At the time and currently, both the COVID-19 mRNA injection and the PCR testing were only available due to Emergency Use Authorization. Hamilton stated, “As an autoimmune disease survivor and living with stage 3 kidney failure, the experimental treatment containing known toxins was not a viable option.”
“As an autoimmune disease survivor and living with stage 3 kidney failure, the experimental treatment containing known toxins was not a viable option.”Jewell Hamilton, Minot
Hamilton notified the Center that she believed their policy violated state and federal law and also explained why she would not be able to comply with the new policy. Hamilton stated that in response, the Human Resources department contacted her supervisor and explained that the issue did not lie with the Job Corps, who had informed all employees of the change within the Center, but instead lay with the Biden Administration. No current Job Corps personnel were willing to comment regarding Hamilton’s employment and termination.
Hamilton stated she was then prevented from entering the facility for her shifts for nearly a week before being informed that she had been terminated for a “failure to follow policy that resulted in misconduct.” Up to that point, Hamilton had received satisfactory employee reviews. This past exemplary employment didn’t prevent security officials from denying Hamilton entrance to the Job Corps facility for her shifts.
Following her termination, Hamilton took it upon herself to learn more about the relevant laws in North Dakota and filed a pro se lawsuit requesting that the NDSC compel Gov. Burgum to uphold his oath of office to the people and constitution. Hamilton even served the Governor’s office herself. Mike Nowatzki, Communications Director at Office of the Governor of North Dakota, stated during an Oct. 26 interview that the Office of the Governor had no comment in the Hamilton v. Burgum case.
“Writs are purely discretionary in North Dakota, and the Supreme Court Justices were not required to provide a reason.“Petra Hulm, North Dakota Supreme Court Clerk of the Supreme Court
The NDSC denied Hamilton’s suit without prejudice. In denying her suit, none of the five NDSC supreme court justices gave a reason for the denial. While Hamilton believes the denial of her suit without explanation is another violation of her constitutional rights (based on Article 1, Section 25, Paragraph 2), NDSC Clerk of the Supreme Court Petra Hulm explained, “Writs are purely discretionary in North Dakota, and the Supreme Court Justices were not required to provide a reason.” However, for the NDSC to deny the suit without prejudice means that Hamilton is not prevented from filing the suit again and that she may even have options in a lower court.
Hamilton believes that since all five justices took the time to “have nothing to say,” her writ demanding the protection of her rights had merit, but, in her opinion, the justices were unwilling to proceed with a court order that Gov. Burgum uphold his oath of office. “They want people to think that one grandmother has no voice and no power. But they’re wrong. Just one grandmother has the power to command the governor and the supreme court to uphold the law.”
Hamilton is unsure at this point how she will proceed, since hiring an attorney is not economically feasible for her at this point. For now, she simply hopes that other North Dakotans will follow her example and stand up for their rights.