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The federal government (and especially this current administration)
appears at times to be conducting a jihad against the privacy rights of
the people they are supposed to represent.
The Declaration of Independence references “a long train of abuses
and usurpations.” The framers then delineated the history of “repeated
injuries and usurpations.”
I have written and talked about “Echelon,” “Know Your Customer,” a
gaggle of assorted flavors of “national ID cards,” “subdermal biochip
implants,” and the tangential issues of abuse of power under the color
of authority, malfeasance, corruption, hubris, and bureaucratic bovine
scatology. Misinformation, disinformation and sleazy spin have become
our government’s standing operating procedure.
The latest affront to the republic is misinformation, which has
started to circulate regarding a recent Supreme Court decision, which
overturned three lower court rulings. The issue was the duplicitously
named Driver Privacy Protection Act of 1994 (DPPA).
This Act was intentionally (and specifically) misnamed by the
nomenclature Nazis to slide it through Congress and to stroke naive
Americans into thinking it would really “protect their privacy.” In
reality it does (with a vengeance) exactly the opposite.
This foul legislation would make Machiavelli and Sun Tzu smile (for
very different reasons). It personifies the cruel distinction between
perception and reality. The DPPA includes one, single-sentence
paragraph that limits the release of information. That’s good right?
Simple, direct, clear and acceptable to most honest people. However, as
is inevitably the case, the devil is in the details, and the details of
this female dog bite.
This act (consider the multiple meanings of the word) has 15 (count
’em) “exception” clauses. A plethora of government initialed agencies,
bureaucracies; entities get around the stated purpose of the “act” for a
wide variety of “authorized uses.”
When the “Supremes” ruled the DPPA was “constitutional,” they
reversed three lower court rulings from three separate states: South
Carolina, Alabama, and Colorado — all three courts had ruled the DPPA
was in violation of the 10th Amendment.
The intended consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision will result
in the creation of a plague of centralized databases, all authorized by
and courtesy of the DPPA.
However, before you sink into despair over a half-filled glass and
slink off into the shadows to delay the intrusion of Big Brother,
reflect on the counterpoint.
County sheriffs in Wyoming (that is a state far to the west of the
87-square miles surrounded by reality of the District of Criminals) have
scored a big one for the 10th Amendment and states rights. The sheriffs
slapped federal intrusion upside the head and are insisting that all
enforcement officers and personnel from federal regulatory agencies must
clear all their activities in a Wyoming county with the Sheriff’s
Office. Deja vu for those who remember big Richard Mack in Arizona.
Bighorn County Sheriff Dave Mattis spoke at a press conference
following the recent U.S. District
Court decision (Case No. 2:96-cv-099-J) and announced that all federal
officials are forbidden to enter his county without his prior approval.
“If a sheriff doesn’t want the Feds in his county he has the
constitutional power and right to keep them out or ask them to leave or
retain them in custody.”
The court decision was the result of a suit against both the BATF and
the IRS by Mattis and other members of the Wyoming Sheriffs’
Association. The suit in the Wyoming federal court district sought
restoration of the protections enshrined in the United States
Constitution and the Wyoming Constitution.
Guess what? The District Court ruled in favor of the sheriffs. In
fact, they stated, “Wyoming is a sovereign state and the duly elected
sheriff of a county is the highest law enforcement official within a
county and has law enforcement powers exceeding that of any other state
official.” Go back and re-read that quote. The court confirms and
asserts, “the duly elected sheriff of a county is the highest law
enforcement official within a county and has law enforcement powers
EXCEEDING that of any other state OR federal official.” And you thought
the 10th Amendment was dead and buried — not in Wyoming, not yet.
But it gets even better. Since the judge states the sheriff “has law
enforcement powers EXCEEDING that of any other state OR federal
official,” the Wyoming sheriffs are flexing their muscles. They are
demanding access to all BATF files. Why? So as to verify the
agency is not violating provisions of Wyoming law that prohibits the
registration of firearms or the keeping of a registry of firearm
owners. See, that would be wrong. The sheriffs are also demanding that
federal agencies immediately cease the seizure of private property and
the impoundment of private bank accounts without regard to due process
in state courts.
Gosh, it kinda makes you wish the sheriffs of whatever counties have
Waco, Texas, and Oklahoma City in their jurisdictions were drinking the
same water these Wyoming sheriffs are.
Sheriff Mattis said, “I am reacting to the actions of federal
employees who have attempted to deprive citizens of my county of their
privacy, their liberty, and their property without regard to
constitutional safeguards. I hope that more sheriffs all across America
will join us in protecting their citizens from the illegal activities of
the IRS, EPA, BATF, FBI, or any other federal agency that is operating
outside the confines of constitutional law. Employees of the IRS and the
EPA are no longer welcome in Bighorn County unless they intend to
operate in conformance to constitutional law.” Amen.
However, the sad reality is that sheriffs are elected, and
that means they are required to be both law enforcement managers and
politicians. Unfortunately, Wyoming sheriffs are the exception rather
than the rule … but they shouldn’t be. Sheriffs have enormous power,
if or when they choose to use it. I share the hope of Sheriff Mattis
that “more sheriffs all across America will join us in protecting their
If Wyoming Sheriffs can follow in the steps of former Arizona Sheriff
Richard Mack and both recognize their power and authority, they
could become champions for the memory of Thomas Jefferson who died
“thinking” he had won those states’ rights debates with Alexander
This case is not some amusing mountain melodrama. This is a BIG
deal. It is yet further evidence that the 10th Amendment is not yet
totally dead, atrophied, or in complete decay in the
United States. It is also significant in that it can/may, and hopefully
will be interpreted to mean that “political subdivisions of a State are
included within the meaning of the amendment, or that the powers
exercised by a sheriff are an extension of those common law powers which
the Tenth Amendment explicitly reserves to the People, if they are not
granted to the federal government and
specifically prohibited to the States.”
Winston Churchill observed, “If you will not fight for right when you
can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your
victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you
will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious
chance of survival. There may be a worse case. You may have to fight
when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to
live as slaves.”