Why The Nevada Ranch War Should Concern Every American

A decades long dispute over land in Nevada erupted into violence this past week as the Federal Government used force against a rancher and his cattle.

Cliven Bundy is a Nevada rancher in Clark County who’s family has staked claim to the land in question predating the creation of the Bureau of Land Management. The Bureau of Land Management doesn’t care, because the Federal Government is apparently always right. Always.

Here’s the problem: What legal right does the Bureau of Land Management have over land in an individual state?

It’s easy to dismiss such a question by pointing to the badge and gun, acknowledging the common incorrect notion that the Federal Government is always supreme and correct.

Let’s take it a step beyond the mainstream media and actually take a serious look at the question.

Pursuant to Article 6, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, the Constitution and constitutionally-compliant laws are “supreme law of the land.” This establishes the Constitution as the centerpiece of American law, thus leaving us with a second question: Is the Bureau of Land Management’s control over land in an individual state constitutional?

The Bureau of Land Management was created by Congress. The powers of Congress are listed in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. Pursuant to the Tenth Amendment, powers not specifically enumerated to the Federal Government here are left to the States and people, unless specifically prohibited under Article 1, Section 10.

Thus, what Congress can do is fairly straight forward. Among these specifically enumerated powers is not the power to control land within a single state.

If the law were actually enforced, it might’ve actually saved federal prosecutors a headache in 2012. Two years ago, a case was brought against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s close friend and donor Harvey Whittemore. The charges related to illegal campaign donations to Senator Reid.

Whittemore is a businessman who has been described as a powerful businessman and lobbyist in Nevada. Apparently even powerful enough to make his money speak sweet-nothings to Senator Reid.

Of the business ventures of Harvey Whittemore included Coyote Springs, a planned living community on desert land. The proposed project would include 160,000 homes, twelve golf courses, and a number of hotel-casinos.

Regulations got in the way though. What was one major obstacle? Desert lands that included a sanctuary for the endangered desert tortoise.

The obstacles were eventually dodged. Senator Reid was a major reason this occurred, as he introduced legislation to allow Coyote Springs to be constructed. It also seemed to help that Whittemore’s personal attorney was Leif Reid, who contacted Senator Reid regarding the EPA resisting Coyote Springs construction.

Leif Reid, son of Senator Harry Reid.

Then there was the water rights issues raised by residents of multiple states, as well as environmentalists and local ranchers. While initially slowing the progress of Coyote Springs, agreements were reached. Of the employees at Whittemore’s law firm was Clark County Commission chairman and Southern Nevada Water Authority vice-chairman Rory Reid.

Rory Reid, son of Senator Harry Reid

This all would lead to the charges in 2012 of illegal campaign contributions to Senator Reid by Whittemore.

Here’s a final question: Why should this concern you and every other American?

The answer is simple. Even top politicians in Congress, regardless of political party, listen to money when it speaks to them. When Congress claims authority over state property that they have no right to, this becomes a greater issue.

Cliven Bundy’s only mistake was in not being a powerful business man who dodges the law and buys politicians, two things that liberals often accuse Republicans of doing. He and his wife didn’t donate tens of thousands of dollars to Senator Reid’s re-election campaign and leadership fund. Bundy didn’t try to conceal a dirty deal by writing checks to family members and twenty-nine employees or their own families, who then contributed the maximum amount to Senator Reid. Bundy didn’t fund the campaigns of Senator Reid’s sons or employ all four of his sons.

Cliven Bundy is just an honest man making an honest living. That is the crime, according to federal “law.”

The Democrats are right about money being powerful in politics, but only because we allow the Federal Government to hold powers it legally does not have. So when these militia groups travel to Nevada to defend the Bundy Ranch from the aggression of the Bureau of Land Management, they are protecting a rancher against illegal force.

If the desert tortoise actually mattered, Harvey Whittemore wouldn’t have gotten his way with Coyote Springs. This is about power and money, and unless you buy off your political representatives, violent force can and will be used against you if you resist federal aggression.

America no longer needs a dictionary to define “tyranny.” One merely needs to look to Nevada to see it in action.

Chris Dixon

About Chris Dixon

Chris Dixon is a libertarian-leaning writer and managing editor for The Liberty Conservative. In addition to his political writing, he also covers baseball for Cleat Geeks and enjoys writing on a number of other topics ranging on Medium.