Local governments can and must fight back against the most brazen tyranny of our age. According to KTTV, the city council of Huntington Beach, California, voted 4-3 early Wednesday morning to ban COVID-19 mandates in the city. The ban applies to both mask and vaccine mandates. The city council meeting did not adjourn until 2:48 a.m., and the KTTV did not indicate why. No doubt the contentious subject and narrow vote help explain the prolonged meeting. Mayor Pro Tem Gracey Van Der Mark introduced a declaration that mask mandates in 2020 and 2021 “unnecessarily limited the freedoms of the citizens of Huntington Beach — even those who were not around anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 or at risk of any exposure.” Bravo to those four brave souls on the Huntington Beach City Council. Indeed, the only part of Van Der Mark’s declaration to which one might object is the phrase “even those.” After all, mask mandates have no legitimacy regardless of an individual’s exposure to COVID-19. The fundamental problem with mandates, both mask and vaccine, is that they lack the force of proper authority. In a republic, government officials have no power that the sovereign people do not expressly grant. And the word “expressly” makes all the difference. In a constitutional republic like ours, the people grant power to their governments only through written constitutions. Governments can claim no power simply by virtue of being governments. Thus, every potential act of government must find authorization from the sovereign people in a written constitution. The obverse of this principle would render self-government an absurdity. It would mean that the people are sovereign except when those who happen to hold government offices decide otherwise. The principle allows for no exceptions. Likewise, unusual circumstances do not suspend this principle. Governments do not suddenly acquire powers because a segment of the population feels frightened. Armed with this principle, we need not even entertain questions of mask or vaccine efficacy. Let those purported remedies offer all the protection their proponents religiously insist, and mandates would remain illegitimate. The Huntington Beach City Council vote raised another important and oft-overlooked aspect of the mandate issue. In our constitutional system, there are no superior and inferior governments. Each government acts properly within its assigned sphere and not beyond it. Thus, to take the current example, neither the U.S. federal government nor the state government of California wields any greater authority than a city council simply by being larger. A state mandate, for instance, would override a city council vote under only one condition. If the California constitution specifically authorized state officials to impose mask and vaccine mandates, then the mandates would apply. The same holds true at the federal level. I claim no expertise on the California constitution. There is no telling what the current residents of that state might think fitting for themselves and their neighbors. On the U.S. Constitution, however, I can conclude with confidence that no authorization for mask and vaccine mandates exists. When government officials presume to mandate something, therefore, we need not ask whether the thing mandated has benefits. We need only ask where those officials get the authority. If we have not given them the authority, then we need not — indeed, must not — comply. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.