He cites a severe violation of U.S. Code — 43 U.S.C. Section 1733, Subsection C
by B. Christopher Agee, Western Journalism
After the federal Bureau of Land Management agents backed down from their intimidating stance at the Bundy Ranch last weekend, ample evidence has surfaced indicating the standoff between the government and the Nevada ranching family is far from over. Throughout the weeklong stalemate, members of the Bundy family were physically assaulted by armed officers, numerous cows were shot dead, and protesters faced threats of gunfire for merely expressing their outrage.
Immediately after what many considered a victory against a tyrannical federal agency, a number of leftist voices – most notably, Sen. Harry Reid – indicated the action against this family will continue.
In response, Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman sent a letter to Barack Obama, Department of the Interior Sec. Sally Jewell, and BLM Director Neil Kornze, laying out his position that any such action by the agency would violate the U.S. Constitution.
“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.”
The letter included a section of the U.S. Code — 43 U.S.C. Section 1733, Subsection C — stating exactly that point. [Emphasis Stockman’s]
“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.”
In the case of the Bundy Ranch, he continued, “the relevant local law enforcement officials appear to be the Sheriff of Clark County, Nevada, Douglas C. Gillespie.”
Gillespie, however, conspicuously took a back seat to BLM forces during the standoff.
“Indeed,” Stockman wrote, “the exact type of crisis that the federal government has provoked at the Bundy ranch is the very type of incident that Congress knew could be avoided by relying on local law enforcement officials.”
The stated purpose of the correspondence is for the Obama administration “to bring the BLM into compliance with 43 U.S.C. section 1733.”
Absent a full investigation into the agency’s actions, he concluded, “the federal government must not only stand down, but remove all federal personnel from anywhere near the Bundy ranch.”
Legislators and law enforcement personnel have stood alongside state militia members and the Bundy family in opposing the excessive force employed by the BLM. Stockman’s letter adds even more weight to the growing sentiment against the federal overreach.