After Harry Reid issued a public threat to the Cliven Bundy family: “It’s not over,” “Congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX) went to public law to determine what authority the BLM has, to do what they did to Bundy, and sent a letter to the Secretary of the Interior, the BLM and Barack Obama.
“Because of this standoff,” he wrote, “I have looked into BLM’s authority to conduct such paramilitary raids against American citizens, and it appears that BLM is acting in a lawless manner in Nevada.”
He cited the limited powers granted to the federal government, noting the bureau has no “right to assume preemptory police powers, that role being reserved to the States,” and explained “many federal laws require the federal government to seek assistance from local law enforcement whenever the use of force may become necessary.” Source: Western Journalism
That’s sounds persuasive, but reading the law, I’m not sure the law helps the Bundys. The U.S. code says (my interpretation) local law enforcement should be contracted with to resolve the perceived offense against public lands, but as (c)(2) says “Federal officials” may also carry out the law. It does not say under what conditions Feds may go around state law enforcement, both of which may be trained and armed and have authority to seize property without a warrant.
The applicable local law enforcement in the Bundy case is Sheriff Doug Gillespie, who was close to absent during the standoff. We were told the BLM did hire “contract cowboys” to serve as cattle rustlers. Maybe Gillespie deputized the cowboy cattle rustlers but wanted to be under-the-radar about it? I’m only speculating. I have no idea what the Sheriff did or did not do, other than what I’ve read in the news.
The question remains, why the courts did not do more than order Bundy to stop grazing cattle on Federal lands. They had the authority to fine him, put him in jail or both.
And the issue for most of us rests with the fact that a good many Americans live on or near public lands, managed by numerous governmental departments, rendering them useless to state citizens and void of a tax base to support the community.
Note that Stockman specifically cites Subsection C in the U.S. code below:
43 U.S. Code § 1733 – Enforcement authority
(a) Regulations for implementation of management, use, and protection requirements; violations; criminal penalties
The Secretary [of the Interior] shall issue regulations necessary to implement the provisions of this Act with respect to the management, use, and protection of the public lands, including the property located thereon. Any person who knowingly and willfully violates any such regulation which is lawfully issued pursuant to this Act shall be fined no more than $1,000 or imprisoned no more than twelve months, or both.Any person charged with a violation of such regulation may be tried and sentenced by any United States magistrate judge designated for that purpose by the court by which he was appointed, in the same manner and subject to the same conditions and limitations as provided for in section 3401 of title18. [Misdemeanors; application of probation laws](b)Civil actions by Attorney General for violations of regulations; nature of relief; jurisdictionAt the request of the Secretary, the Attorney General may institute a civil action in any United States district court for an injunction or other appropriate order to prevent any person from utilizing public lands in violation of regulations issued by the Secretary under this Act.
c)Contracts for enforcement of Federal laws and regulations by local law enforcement officials; procedure applicable; contract requirements and implementation
(1) When the Secretary determines that assistance is necessary in enforcing Federal laws and regulations relating to the public lands or their resources he shall offer a contract to appropriate local officials having law enforcement authority within their respective jurisdictions with the view of achieving maximum feasible reliance upon local law enforcement officials in enforcing such laws and regulations. The Secretary shall negotiate on reasonable terms with such officials who have authority to enter into such contracts to enforce such Federal laws and regulations.In the performance of their duties under such contracts such officials and their agents are authorized to carry firearms; execute and serve any warrant or other process issued by a court or officer of competent jurisdiction; make arrests without warrant or process for a misdemeanor he has reasonable grounds to believe is being committed in his presence or view, or for a felony if he has reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony; search without warrant or process any person, place, or conveyance according to any Federal law or rule of law; and seize without warrant or process any evidentiary item as provided by Federal law.The Secretary shall provide such law enforcement training as he deems necessary in order to carry out the contracted for responsibilities. While exercising the powers and authorities provided by such contract pursuant to this section, such law enforcement officials and their agents shall have all the immunities of Federal law enforcement officials.(2) The Secretary may authorize Federal personnel or appropriate local officials to carry out his law enforcement responsibilities with respect to the public lands and their resources. Such designated personnel shall receive the training and have the responsibilities and authority provided for in paragraph (1) of this subsection.(d) Cooperation with regulatory and law enforcement officials of any State or political subdivision in enforcement of laws or ordinances
In connection with the administration and regulation of the use and occupancy of the public lands, the Secretary is authorized to cooperate with the regulatory and law enforcement officials of any State or political subdivision thereof in the enforcement of the laws or ordinances of such State or subdivision. Such cooperation may include reimbursement to a State or its subdivision for expenditures incurred by it in connection with activities which assist in the administration and regulation of use and occupancy of the public lands.(f) Applicability of other Federal enforcement provisions
Nothing in this Act shall be construed as reducing or limiting the enforcement authority vested in the Secretary by any other statute.(g) Unlawful activitiesThe use, occupancy, or development of any portion of the public lands contrary to any regulation of the Secretary or other responsible authority, or contrary to any order issued pursuant to any such regulation, is unlawful and prohibited.
Our laws seldom seem to favor the people, and those that do, such as immigration and visa laws, are routinely ignored. During the Obama administration, laws are specifically directed to be ignored. Eminent Domain laws are ignored or have been altered with little public awareness. We have health care ruled to be a tax by the Supreme Court, when Congress did not pass the law as a tax, so there was no taxing legislation.
For those on the left finally beginning to notice there is such a thing as Rule of Law, you’ve picked on a conservative man and his family, but the Occupier movement that broke numerous laws, including displays of public indecency, and costing local merchants millions, wasn’t on your hit list. Neither are you bothered by IRS targeting, SWAT entering Gibson Guitar, confiscating an expensive inventory of legally imported wood, keeping it for months, maybe a year or more, before finally giving it back. How many of us must the government take everything from before you decide the Rule of Law is worth consulting?
If you have an opinion about the law and how it applies to Cliven Bundy, let me know.
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