By Walt Setzer
A new phenomenon has been occurring in the West, the rise of the Constitutional Sheriff. The man leading the movement is former Sheriff of Graham County, AZ, Richard Mack. Sheriff Mack gained national attention when he challenged the Brady Bill in court and won his case. The bill mandated that Sheriffs conduct background investigations on gun purchasers. His claim stated that the federal government cannot compel a state officer to enforce federal law. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with him.
The movement has been gaining a lot of traction, especially in the West, where the federal government is encroaching more and more on personal freedoms and private property rights. Sheriffs are the only elected law enforcement officers and are responsible for the protection of the citizens of their counties, not only against crime, but against violations of the U.S. and State Constitutions.
Some of the issues facing our states have gained a lot of publicity, such as the U.S. Department of Justice lawsuits against Arizona and one of our leading Sheriffs (Joe Arpaio), but there are others that are in my opinion, even more important than those. One in particular is the attempt by the federal government to seize the water rights in our western states. A well known example of the feds overreaching is in the San Joaquin Valley of California, where farms are drying up because their water supply has been shut off to protect the Snail Darter, a small fish.
One Sheriff who has made the news for standing up for his constituents is Nye County, Nevada Sheriff, Tony DeMeo. Sheriff DeMeo became aware that the U.S. Forest Service was trying to seize cattle belonging to a local rancher, with no court orders. The reason for the seizures was to keep the rancher from using the water on his land to water his livestock, which would then allow the Forest Service to seize his water rights because he was no longer using them. This finally came to a head when Sheriff DeMeo made it clear that any further attempts to illegally seize cattle would result in his SWAT team being deployed to the ranch. The federal government blinked, and Sheriff DeMeo made his point. A series of three videos is available at http://www.morphcity.com/home/80-constitutional-sheriff-tony-demeo/. In the videos Sheriff DeMeo outlines the history of the problem, and his Constitutional standing.
Another example is Elkhart County, Indiana’s Sheriff Brad Rogers. When a dairy farmer in his County was being harassed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Sheriff Rogers stepped in. The FDA wanted to inspect the farm without a warrant, and a subpoena had been issued to the farmer to appear before a federal grand jury investigating him for the felony of distributing whole milk. Sheriff Rogers told the USFDA that if anyone stepped foot on the farm without a valid warrant, they would be arrested. They backed down and withdrew the subpoena.
Although there are many more examples of how our Constitutional Sheriffs are stepping up to uphold their oath of office, I will give one last instance. In our neighbor to the east, New Mexico there have been several confrontations with the feds. One of those occurred in the mountain town of Cloudcroft. The U.S. Forest Service would not allow the county to construct firebreaks in the forest, which had large amounts of undergrowth making for extreme fire hazards that endangered their town. With the assistance of Sheriff Raymond Cobos, and Congressman Steve Pearce, the townspeople cut their firebreaks and the U.S. Forest Service did not intervene, having been told in advance by the Sheriff that if they arrested anyone, they would in turn be arrested.
Based on the events of the last three and a half years, I have serious concerns about the federal government violating our rights. The Administration has already shown a total disregard for the Constitution, and the Congress seems complacent about letting them do it. Who will protect us when the feds infringe upon our rights? The Constitutional Sheriffs will. They are our last line of defense against tyranny, and that is an awesome responsibility.
To learn more about Constitutional Sheriffs, you can go to the following sites:
County Sheriff Project http://www.constitutionalsheriffs.com/
Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association http://www.cspoa.org/
Walt Setzer, Deputy U.S. Marshal (RET)
Candidate for Pima County Sheriff