by Dr. Ed Berry
Although I still do not like HR 1505, I appreciate Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg’s proposed an amendment to HR 1505 that has significant advantages for Montana, assuming HR 1505 eventually passes. His proposed amendment would recognize the county sheriff as the highest law enforcement officer in his county, even above a federal marshal, but excluding the FBI which is needed to stop corruption in our local law enforcement.
The primary reason given for HR 1505 is to resolve a federal agency turf war over who rules over federal land: Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, or DHS. As is, the FS and BLM won’t let DHS on their land, and DHS is complaining this is preventing it from doing its job.
Rehberg’s amendment would solve this turf war the correct way and the best way: let the county sheriff decide if and when DHS can enter his county to conduct its law enforcement operations. This puts the final decision under local control rather than under Washington executive control. The people elect their county sheriff to protect them. The sheriff should therefore decide what federal agencies and their employees do in his county.
This amendment, if passed, will recognize what is already law according to the Supreme Court decision in the Mack-Printz case. A year ago, I personally asked this question to Sheriff Richard Mack:
“Does a sheriff have the authority to send his deputies onto federal land in his county, over the objection of federal agents, for any purpose he deems necessary to protect the welfare of the people in his county … even like to kill wolves?”
Sheriff Mack replied:
“Yes, and if a federal agent attempted to stop the sheriff or his posse then the sheriff can and should arrest the federal agent and put him in jail.”
Congressman Rehberg is proposing this amendment only for Montana. It is up to other states to propose similar amendments for their states.
This amendment does not, of course, solve all the problems with HR 1505. Nevertheless, it goes a long way to improve HR 1505. We will discuss remaining problems with HR 1505 in the next post.
Meanwhile, hats off to Congressman Rehberg for listening to the people of Montana and proposing this amendment.