A Line in the Sand
David A. Lombardo 1/11/2016
Let’s get something straight. The purpose of the United States Constitution is to create a federal government and to severely limit its power. The Constitution is designed to hold government in check-not the populace-as stated in the Tenth Amendment.
Last week the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom broke into Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, about 30 miles from Burn, Oregon, and took up residence. It’s unclear how many people are involved but the most prominent are Ammon & Ryan Bundy, sons of Cliven Bundy of the 2014 standoff against the federal government. According to Ammon Bundy they are prepared to live in the facility until such time as the federal government relinquishes control of the wildlife refuge so “people can reclaim their resources.”
Bundy also cited they want an easier sentence for Dwight Hammond and his son Steven, ranchers who were convicted in 2012 of committing arson on federal lands in Oregon. The Hammonds said they started the 2001 fire on their property to protect it from wildfires and to reduce the growth of invasive plants; controlled burns are a longstanding, common practice, but the fire got out of hand and spread to federal land. The BLM-bureaucrats who don’t have any actual experience at ranching but, because they went to college, they know more about it than the ranchers-claimed the Hammonds started the fire to cover up traces of poaching.
Whether you agree with the Bundy brothers or not and whether you think this is the time and place to draw a line in the sand or not, there are certain irrefutable facts that need to have a really big spotlight focused on them.
First of all, Ammon Bundy has been very clear that, while armed, they have no intention to use firearms for hostile purposes beyond being able to defend themselves should it come to that. He was very specific that they chose that location because it is an unoccupied Bureau of Land Management facility in a very rural area, away from the population. In short, the group is trying to make a point without being a physical threat to anyone.
Contrast that with the rage of liberals who are ranting that the federal government should go in and kill them all through action ranging from sending in Delta Force to literally bombing the facility: no due process, no day in court, and certainly no right to protest the government or exercise civil disobedience. Odd, isn’t it? Where have those sentiments been during the ginned-up, Soros-funded rioting? What more does anyone need to know about liberalism than that?
Second-and this is the crux of the matter-can anyone show me where the Constitution provides for the Bureau of Land Management as we know it today? Or, to be more specific, where the Constitution provides for the federal government to own land beyond in a very limited way? Article One of the Constitution provides for not more than 10 square miles of land for the District of Columbia and such land as necessary to operate forts and ports and then with the consent of the host state.
Article Four talks about Territory, with a capital T-land government has in trust for a future state. Once a state is formed, it is no longer a Territory, and the federal government no longer has jurisdiction. There are no longer any Territories in the contiguous United States. It’s the Equal Footing doctrine: every new state enters the union as an independent, free and sovereign government, therefore it has the same footing as the original thirteen.
And let’s be clear: Congress does not have the authority to pass laws that change the Constitution except within the confines of Article Five, a daunting task that has not been applied to the issue of land ownership. If Congress lacks that authority, you can bet that the President doesn’t have the authority to unilaterally supersede the Constitution through executive order. Note to this president: it appears to me you were chosen to teach constitutional law in the same way you were chosen to be president, but that’s a topic for another day.
Is it only me or does anyone else smell the stink of federal-testosterone-flexing-muscle to yet again diminish state and individual rights? Who better to decide how best to use the land within a state’s borders than the residents of the state? The Bundy brothers are thoughtfully demonstrating civil disobedience with real concern for the protection of the civilian population in the area. They have taken a stand in a remote, uninhabited area with no looting, no rioting, no burning of buildings and no shooting cops. The Bundy brothers are bringing into sharp focus unconstitutional government land policy that affects the life of John Q. You can throw land management on the trash heap of military preparedness, federal health care, government surveillance, immigration, political correctness, freedom of speech, religious freedom and the Second Amendment.
Love ’em or hate ’em, unlike liberals, the Bundy brothers are willing to put their money where their mouth is and they’re forcing Americans to take a hard look at an out-of-control federal government. What the results of that look will be is anyone’s guess, but I think the time has come to draw the line in the sand and stand up to a government that views its citizens as subjects.