I followed the Cliven Bundy vs. the Bureau of Land Management ranch war all last week up until the (thankfully) peaceful, but temporary ending over the weekend. I say “temporary ending” because it is not likely that the BLM is going to simply forget the whole issue and leave the Bundy family alone, emboldened and triumphant.
Cliven Bundy and his family managed to force the BLM to back down, not because he is legally in the right, but because he cleverly used the media and the internet to expose the bully tactics being conducted by the feds. Nobody likes a bully. In this case with the bully is the federal government – the government that uses the NSA to snoop on American lives and the IRS to target certain groups of people. Is it hard to imagine why Americans would flock to Bundy’s defense?
Initially I was a little neutral on this situation, primarily because the devil is in the details. The legality question goes as far back as 1848!
The federal government owns the disputed land and has claimed ownership since before Nevada even joined the union, according to a 2013 U.S. District Court ruling.
“[T]he public lands in Nevada are the property of the United States because the United States has held title to those public lands since 1848, when Mexico ceded the land to the United States,” the ruling states, confirming the federal government’s longstanding claim that it lawfully acquired ownership of the land under the Treaty of the Guadalupe Hidalgo.
The Bundy’s have been using the contested land since the 1880s. Needless to say, a lot has happened between then and 2014.
Before I summarize my position, I encourage you to read this article on Breigbart’s Big Government which goes over the nitty gritty details that are necessary to make a fair judgment about who is legally in the right in this ranch war. The Blaze has a decent article too, covering questions about the background history, to the desert tortoise, to Harry Reid’s alleged involvement.
Ok, so what do I think? Like I said before, I was initially neutral. However, as the days went by with reports of heavily armed BLM agents using a military-like presence to intimidate the Bundy family and their supporters, who the BLM tried to force into “First Amendment Zones“, I could not help but feel sympathy for the rancher. A man defending his ranch against a bully – the mighty federal government and their army of BLM armed agents.
Bundy may be in the wrong legally, but when the BLM decided to bring an army in to show him who was boss he won the publicity battle. That does not make Bundy’s case any better legally, but it will help him keep the BLM at bay for a little while longer. At the end of the day though, unless some mutual agreement can be made between the Bundy and the government, he will end up on the losing side.
If you support Bundy you’re likely to reject my last few sentences. Before you do, I encourage you to consider this question: Are we a nation of laws and not of men?