Given what’s going on in our world at the moment - especially in our national political activities - you really don’t need anything more to worry about. Just kidding. Here’s another - your local sheriff. I’m very worried about mine. And you ought to do some checking on yours.
A goodly number of sheriffs - especially in the west - are quietly joining an outfit called “Constitutional Sheriffs & Peace Officers Association.” Let’s just call it CSPOA. It’s joined at the hip to the more well-known “Oath Keepers.” If you’re familiar with the right wing profile of Oath Keepers, move the scale for CSPOA a few notches right of that.
The CSPOA main website has a lot of mumbo jumbo about peace, love, liberty and extensive quotes from our constitution. But, under that B.S. and between the lines, CSPOA members believe there is no higher legal authority in the country than the local sheriff and federal laws should be enforced ONLY if a sheriff “thinks” or “believes” they’re constitutional. One of the badge wearing self-determiners of federal law and a co-founder of CSPOA is that famous constitutional “expert” from Arizona - Joltin’ Joe Arpaio. Clearer now? Any questions about parentage?
Washington, Oregon and Idaho are listed as member states claiming some sheriffs therein are practicing members. Several in Oregon - Douglas, Josephine and Lincoln Counties - espouse the CSPOA line and, therefore, should be counted as “fellow travelers” since the membership list is a big secret.
CSPOA’s legal counsel is a “Judge” Navin-Chandra Naidu who believes counties are supposed to be “Christian by nature.” Incidentally, he was a wanted man in Fiji in 2001 for forging his law degree. Also, he represented the Pembina tribe in North Dakota several years back and got the Anti-Defamation League all over his case.
CSPOA focuses on sheriffs, calling them “the highest executive authority in a county and therefore constitutionally empowered to keep federal agencies out of the county.” Co-founder Richard Mack believes “the greatest threat we face ... is not terrorists; it’s our federal government (and) one of the best and easiest solutions is to depend on local officials, especially the sheriff, to stand against federal intervention and federal criminality.” Much of the other flotsam comes straight out of “sovereign nation” and “posse comitatus” movements. Great bunch of guys.
Upon close investigation, the Southern Poverty Law Center - a respected clearinghouse for identifying and following hate groups - calls CSPOA “a remarkably radical organization, considering who their members are.” My sheriff and maybe yours
High on CSPOA’s current agenda is the defeat of local lawmen and law women who don’t see things their way on such issues as gun control which, by the way, is no control. Criminal or nutcase, CSPOA says all are entitled to arm up without any restrictions.
Several Oregon and Idaho sheriff’s are being CSPOA-challenged at the polls this year. Many candidates have no law enforcement background but express innate ability to “judge for themselves” what, in our constitution, applies to their communities. And, possibly more important, what does not.
Take Oregon, for example. Our Harney County sheriff, who did a fine job trying to get the Bundy Bandits out of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, is facing a CSPOA-backed challenger in November. Dave Ward was called “weak” and “ineffective” because he wouldn’t tell the FBI and other feds to “butt out.” Apparently CSPOA doesn’t think much of patience and respect for our laws as virtues.
John Hanlon, over in Douglas County, made headlines a year or two ago denouncing all things federal in a widely-publicized letter to V.P. Biden. Hanlon proudly - and loudly - proclaimed he’d not only not enforce federal gun laws, but he’d arrest federal agents who came into his county to do so. A dozen or so other sheriffs jumped on Hanlon’s publicity bandwagon with the same claim so it could be fairly assumed they’ve got connections with CSPOA as well.
But, on the other side of the ledger, Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer, who called the Bundyites “patriots” and tried to chase the feds away, is being challenged by a local non-CSPOA type with experience and more common sense. And ol’ Sheriff Palmer is also on the wrong end of an investigation of his activities by Oregon authorities. Could end his career if he’s found to have “aided and abetted.” Which it looks like he did.
In my view, any sheriff who wants to believe this sewage flowing out of the CSPOA has a perfect right to do so. But, because of the flawed “thinking” and legally very questionable precepts of CSPOA, that sheriff should resign from office. None of them - not one - is empowered to decide for themselves which portions of our U.S. Constitution to enforce and which to ignore. None of them - not one - has legal authority to replace our national court system as arbiters of constitutional law.
There is nothing “constitutional” about CSPOA. In fact, what it preaches should be classified as sedition and those that act on that preaching are - in my mind - guilty of it as well.
Anyone who tries it - Hanlon, Palmer or any other - should be removed from office if attempting to thwart laws and court decisions instructing them how to conduct their official duties. Upon assuming office, all sheriffs take an oath to uphold the constitution - state and federal - and all laws - state and federal. They swear “So help me God.”
CSPOA seems to be telling sheriffs there were some weasel words in their oaths of office giving them special powers to decide right and wrong. Oaths that end “So help me God” are not known for weasel words.