Sheriffs Mack, Prinz, Mattis — A warning about this whole issue.
Posted on: January 24, 2011
By Don Fotheringham
The force by which this bogus issue is propelled is amazing. It has exploded all over the web. I hope it is nothing more than a whole lot of good people dreaming of an easier solution to intrusive government. It would take forever to tackle all the wild assertions on this issue, so I will summarize as much as possible.
1. The Sheriff Mack case (listed as Prinz v U.S., No. 95-1503)
Advertisements for Sheriff Richard Mack’s speech state that he “fought the Brady Bill gun control law all the way to the Supreme Court and won.”
Okay, what did he win? He won the right to refuse to make background checks on gun owners, period. That’s all the case was about. It was not a Second Amendment issue, neither was it a challenge to the Brady Handgun Bill.
The Court ruled that the federal government could not force the states to do its work unless the federal government paid for the cost of the background checks, or unless the federal government did the background checks itself.
The result of this case further damaged the Second Amendment by certifying federal gun control and “buying” the states’ cooperation in the investigation process. Moreover, it strengthened the Brady Bill by legitimizing its authority to require background checks.
The Sheriff Mack case was an administrative issue, not a gun control issue, and not a grant of power to county sheriffs. The Court never so much as hinted that a county sheriff had power to arrest or restrain federal enforcement officers.
Many quotes from this and other Supreme Court cases confirm powers retained by the states; however, none of these lofty statements restrain any federal power other than who pays for the inspections – the federal gun controls are still in place.
2. The Sheriff Mattis case (listed as Castaneda v. United States, No. 96-CV-099)
The misrepresentation of this Wyoming case is incredible. In the first place the case did not challenge, deny, or grant any authority regarding any sheriff whatsoever. On the net you will see a flood of assertions regarding the rulings of this case, but in fact the Federal District Court made no rulings at all — none, zilch, zero. The case was settled outside the Court in 1997 and therefore no rulings were made, or could be made, because the case was dismissed.
The claims made by Sheriff Mattis have gotten so far out of hand that the Chief Judge, District of Wyoming, found it necessary to issue a public statement. The statement speaks for itself. To access this go to the Wyoming District Court site www.wyd.uscourts.gov and click on PUBLISHED DOCUMENTS. This opens a page that shows UNPUBLISHED DOCUMENTS under which it says: Letter from Chief Judge William Downes. Click on the words “PDF Format.”
There is plenty of irony in this: The Castaneda case went to court on charges that due process had been violated. And now Sheriff Mattis wants to arrest federal agents without due process. Is something wrong with this picture?
Montana Law: Sheriff must authorize federal employee arrest, search or seizure.
This alleged law clutters the net as if it actually existed. Lucky for the people in Montana that HB 284 was tabled five years ago, never received a vote in the Judiciary Committee, and is dead and should be dead. Anyone with any respect for the Bill of Rights knows that federal officers are also entitled to due process, and that no power exists for a county sheriff to interfere with federal enforcement. The federal officers may or may not have constitutional authority, but that is not for the sheriff to decide, especially if he decides to restrain the officers by force. Whether you like it or not, the Sixteenth Amendment is constitutional and grants direct federal action in the states. The Montana Legislature wisely tossed HB 284 in the round file, but its illegal provisions are still circulated (five years later) as if such a law actually existed.
Now this leads to the question of motives:
Do I think Sheriffs Mack, Prinz and Mattis have set out to beguile anyone? No I do not. I have not met Prinz or Mattis, but I have met Richard Mack, attended his speech, and read his book, The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope.
In his book Mack confuses democracy with a republic. He insists that he is directly accountable to the people, which is the definition of a democracy. But in a constitutional republic an officer is not directly accountable to the people, he is accountable to the law. The United States is a government of laws, not of men. This huge gap in Mack’s understanding has led Mack into the very trap that exalts our politicians in Washington. They think they have a mandate to do anything they want because they were elected by a majority. Sorry, Sheriff Mack — that is not how our country works. You are elected to protect and to serve within the statutes of your county — you do not have federal authority.
Mack’s book is full of patriotic maxims and implied support for his claim that he has power over federal bureaucrats. He cites, for example the Castaneda case in which the plaintiffs “demanded, as part of their court settlement, that Big Horn County Sheriff, Dave Mattis devise a plan that would prevent [federal] lawlessness from ever occurring again in his county.” Judge Downes, however, reports: “This Court has never issued an order which would serve to limit the lawful activities and duties of federal law enforcement officers….” Mattis may have devised a plan, but it certainly was not a part of the court settlement, for the court did not settle the case.
So what are Sheriff Mack’s motives? I do not know. He implies more than the facts bear out, but he has fans all over the USA who adore him and I am sure he wants to be their symbol of hope, even America’s last hope, as his book proclaims. To me, the sheriff is building a false hope that cannot save the country, that is not the way to stand up for ones’s rights, and that shows a frightening ignorance of the enemy he thinks he his fighting, but whom he is inadvertently helping.
Okay, what’s going on here?
The trillion dollar question is this: Why is so much energy going into a bogus issue? Obviously many patriotic men and women are looking for that silver bullet, that instant solution to our huge, out-of-control federal government. How I wish it were all that simple: Just arrest the bureaucrats.
Has it never occurred to anxious patriots that if a county sheriff had such vast powers the founding fathers might just have mentioned it somewhere, perhaps in the Constitution? But of greater importance, if such power is granted the sheriff, could not such dictatorial powers some day be levied against you?
Now, I do not believe for a minute that federal agents are exempt from the Fourth or Fifth Amendments, and I am as anxious as anyone to stand up for my rights; but you are not going to win that fight at the point of enforcement. It must be won at the source, in Congress where the bureaucracies are created, and the regulations are made and funded. I know that’s a lot of hard work, and not nearly as much fun as cheering for a sheriff who rides in on a white charger to slay the federal dragon. Freedom is not that simple.
If you have been taken up by this widely promoted idea, there may be a far more compelling reason why you had better back off, and soon. It may well be that all this excitement is to goad you and your sheriff into a confrontation with federal agents. Behind that friendly face in Washington, there lurks a very unfriendly face that would just love to make you the cannon fodder of violence. That is how power is taken. You need an emergency, some sort of civil disobedience, that calls for federal troops and severe enforcement measures. Hitler did it that way. He created the anarchy that his own storm troopers “had to” put down. This whole bogus issue may well be calculated to make criminals out of decent, freedom-loving citizens and then put them away permanently. Please give this possibility some very serious thought.
If you are smitten by this false hope, I am sorry. Go back and research it for yourself. I have done the best I can do. I am your friend. I am telling the truth. Please do not allow the truth make me your enemy.