When the United States of America was founded the framers spent arduous hours devising a Constitution that would protect future generations from tyranny and government criminality. A system of checks and balances was established to keep all government, especially at the federal level, from becoming too powerful and abusive.
The Bill of Rights was promulgated to augment the limitations previously placed against the government, to further insure that government would stay in its proper domain.
So, what happens when government does not obey its own constitution? What punishment is meted out to politicians who vote for and pass unconstitutional laws? What happens if they appoint unlawful bureaucracies or allow their agents to violate the rights of the American citizen? The answer to these questions is both astounding and lamentable; NOTHING!
Now the question becomes even greater; who will stop criminal and out-of-control government from killing, abusing, violating, robbing, and destroying its own people? Yes, believe it or not, there is an answer to this one. The duty to stop such criminality lies with the county sheriff. The question needs to be posed to each and every sheriff of these United States; will you stand against tyranny?
The office of sheriff has a long and noble history. It dates back over a thousand years and originated in England. The sheriff is the only elected law enforcement official in America. He is the last line of defense for his citizens. He is the people's protector. He is the keeper of the peace, he is the guardian of liberty and the protector of rights. A vast majority of sheriffs will agree with all of this until they are asked to apply these principles of protection to federal criminals. Their backpeddling and excuses will be more plentiful than radar tickets and louder than sirens at doughnut time. Most of the unbelievers, who themselves have taken a solemn oath to "uphold and defend" the U S Constitution, will passionately and even apologetically exclaim that they have no authority or jurisdiction to tell federal agents to do anything, let alone stop them from victimizing local citizens. The truth and stark reality is that it's just the opposite; the sheriff has ultimate authority and law enforcement power within his jurisdiction. He is to protect and defend his citizens from all enemies, both "foreign and domestic."
Of course, there are those who will maintain that the feds have not and will not commit crimes against law-abiding citizens in this country, the IRS notwithstanding. For the sake of argument, let's just pretend that the government did nothing wrong at the Branch Davidian church in Waco or at Ruby Ridge, Idaho when citizens were killed. Those incidents have been debated and will be forever. However, the immutable truth about both tragedies remains that if the local sheriff had remained in charge of both incidents, not one person would have died, including federal agents, and the law would
still have been enforced.
Despite the frequency or the severity of government abuses, if they were to happen in your county, would your sheriff intervene? Well, don't look now, but they are already occurring and some sheriffs have indeed taken very courageous stands against the feds coming in to their counties to "enforce" their laws. Cattle, lands, homes, bank accounts, cash, and even children have been seized and prisons filled all in the name of federal enforcement of EPA rules, The Endangered Species Act, IRS rules, (of which there are over 10 million pages) Forest Service and Dept. of the Interior technicalities and the list goes on and on. The sheriff of NYE County, Nevada stopped federal agents from seizing a rancher's cattle and even threatened to arrest the feds if they proceeded against his orders. Sheriffs in Wyoming have told the agents of all federal bureaus to check with them before serving any papers, making any arrests, or confiscating any property. Why? because they are doing their jobs that's why! It's just another way to provide checks and balances that ultimately protect and help citizens.
Criminality within the IRS has been well documented. Hearings about such crimes were held before congress in 1998. IRS employees testified of hundreds of crimes being committed against law-abiding citizens. Congress did nothing about it. They were too busy checking Monica Lewinsky's dress. The point remains, if any abuse occurs in your county by federal officials; does your sheriff have the guts and the authority to protect and defend you? Does that question not sound redundant? Is he not bound by oath to do just that?
Yes, he has the right and the duty to do so. In Mack/Printz v USA, the U S Supreme Court declared that the states or their political subdivisions, "are not subject to federal direction." The issue of federal authority is defined even further in this most powerful Tenth Amendment decision. The two sheriffs who brought the suit objected to being forced into federal service without compensation pursuant to some misguided provisions of the Brady Bill. The sheriffs sued the USA (Clinton adm.) and won a major landmark case in favor of States' Rights and local autonomy. In this ruling by the Supreme Court, some amazing principles were exposed regarding the lack of power and authority the federal government actually has. In fact, this is exactly the issue addressed by the court when Justice Scalia opined for the majority stating, "...the Constitution's conferral upon Congress of not all governmental powers, but only discreet, enumerated ones."
Scalia then quotes the basis of the sheriffs' suit in quoting the Tenth Amendment which affirms the limited powers doctrine, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution...are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." To clarify this point, we need to understand that the powers and jurisdiction granted to the federal government are few, precise, and expressly defined. The feds have their assignments within constitutional boundaries and the states have theirs, as well. Scalia also mentions this, "It is incontestable that the Constitution established a system of dual sovereignty" and that the states retained "a residuary and inviolable sovereignty." Scalia even goes so far as to detail who is responsible to keep the federal government in their proper place, if or when they
decide to go beyond their allotted authority. In doing so he quotes James Madison, considered to be the father of our Constitution, "The local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent portions of the supremacy, no more subject, within their respective spheres, to the general authority [federal government] than the general authority is subject to them, within its own sphere." (The Federalist # 39) Thus, the federal government has no more authority to compel the states or the counties to do anything, no more so than the Prime Minister of Canada has.
But what happens when the inevitable occurs; when the feds get too abusive and attempt to control every facet of our lives? The Mack/Printz decision answers this also. "This separation of the two spheres is one of the constitution's structural protections of liberty. Just as the separation and independence of the coordinate branches of the federal government serve to prevent the accumulation of excessive power in any one branch, a healthy balance of power between the States and the Federal Government will reduce the risk of tyranny and abuse from either front." To quote Madison again Scalia writes, "Hence, a double security arises to the rights of the people. The different governments will control each other, at the same time that each will be controlled by itself." (The Federalist # 51) So the state governments are actually and literally charged with controlling the federal government. To do so is "one of the Constitution's structural protections of liberty." (Emphasis added)
Yes, it is regrettable that a sheriff would be put in this position. The governor and the state legislature should be preventing federal invasions into the states and counties way before the sheriff, but if it comes to the sheriff, then he must take a firm stand. James Madison also said, "We can safely rely on the disposition of state legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority." So when the state legislatures go along to get along and are bought off by political cronyism or the disbursement of federal funds, then the sheriff becomes the ultimate check and balance.
It is time for the sworn protectors of liberty, the sheriffs of these United States of America, to walk tall and defend us from all enemies; foreign and domestic. When sheriffs are put in the quandary of choosing between enforcing statutes from vapid politicians or keeping their oaths of office, the path and choice is clear, "I solemnly swear or affirm, that I will protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."