If you imagine that Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy is some sort of constitutional conservative, Josh Blackman wants to direct your attention to the Property Clause as well as the Supremacy Clause of the (actually existing) U.S. Constitution. He also has some thoughts on the Equal Footing Doctrine (states come into the union on an equal footing to the original 13), and on the rule of law in the context of the alleged right to flout court orders. Earlier here, with many reader comments, and more from Charles C. W. Cooke.
P.S.: Yet more views from Coyote and from Brian Doherty.
Ted Frank, who formerly blogged in this space, wrote this which I thought worth passing on:
I hate to see how many on my side who are upset at Obama’s violation of the Rule of Law cheer the Bundys’ criminal contempt of a court order. The Bundys are claiming a right to graze upon federal lands without paying or consent of the landowner on the grounds that the federal government has no sovereignty over Nevada. The US BLM has taken twenty years and multiple court proceedings to kick them out, winning twice in the Ninth Circuit. In response, armed militias showed up this week to defend the Bundys, who have threatened range war. The government has temporarily caved to avoid the possibility of armed confrontation. This really isn’t a close question, and threatens to tar all small-government and Second Amendment supporters.
It has been objected that ownership of vast tracts of the American West by the federal Bureau of Land Management is a very bad idea, might have appalled many Framers and early legislators, and has been advanced into our own era through aggressive policies to curtail the participation of private users. I’m having trouble seeing the relevance of all this, however, to Bundy’s supposed right to defy multiple court orders. The federal government should not be in many different lines of business that it currently is in, but that doesn’t create a right of individual citizens to occupy federal installations for personal economic benefit despite court orders directed against them to the contrary.
Ted also calls our attention to this article by Logan Churchwell and Brandon Darby on the 20-year history of the controversy and the positions advanced by rancher Cliven Bundy to justify contempt of the court orders:
“I believe this is a sovereign state of Nevada,” Bundy recently told a radio reporter. “…I abide by all of Nevada state laws. But, I don’t recognize the United States Government as even existing.”
More: A different emphasis from John Hinderaker (arguing for sympathy with Bundy while conceding the meritlessness of his legal position) and Kevin Williamson.
A federal judge in Chicago got irritated, maybe too much so, at emails from infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau’s supporters. Trudeau isn’t actually being jailed yet, as an appeals court has stayed the order pending its review. [Paul Alan Levy, Consumer Law & Policy]
A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said the yawn, by a cousin of a drug defendant at his plea, was “a loud and boisterous attempt to disrupt the proceedings”. The Chicago Tribune says the judge in question, Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak of Will County, resorts to contempt findings unusually often. The judge later released Clifton Williams after he had served 21 days. [Chicago Tribune, ABA Journal, Solove/Concurring Opinions]
While there are unpleasant stereotypes about Philadelphia lawyers, H. Beatty Chadwick, an attorney from the Philadelphia main line, has a lesson for all with his Gollum-like stubbornness. Today he’s spending his 14th consecutive Christmas in jail on a contempt citation for allegedly hiding assets from his ex-wife.
After a hearing yesterday, Delaware County Court President Judge Joseph P. Cronin Jr. turned down Chadwick’s latest request for Christmas furlough, declaring him “a significant risk of flight.”
Had the court let him out for Christmas, Chadwick could have cut off his electronic-monitoring bracelet and used his money and contacts to fly off in a helicopter, his ex-wife’s attorney, Albert Momjian, said.
By now Chadwick has spent more time locked up for his contempt than any American in history. While I don’t sympathize with Chadwick (who now suffers cancer) if he’s really hiding the money from the court and his ex, surely at some point his indefinite detention becomes a due process violation. Unlike most who serve life sentences, Chadwick has never been adjudicated a criminal, and debtors’ prisons were abolished centuries ago.
Via WSJ Law Blog, but first spotted at A Public Defender.