When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

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K9s
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When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#1 Post by K9s » Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:50 pm

"Sheriffs are seeing laws being made potentially by voters in urban areas and feeling like they need to protect their population from these people who have very different attitudes about the way the world should be."

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee supports firearm restrictions. The bills passed, but some Washington state sheriffs are refusing to enforce them. These "Constitutional Sheriffs" probably have a different flavor in Washington than the Deep South.

https://www.npr.org/2019/02/21/69640073 ... ce-the-law
Last fall, voters in Washington state approved a package of firearms restrictions, generally called I-1639. It raises the minimum age for buying semi-automatic rifles, tightens background checks and makes it a crime to fail to store a gun safely, if the gun ends up in the wrong hands.

The restrictions have raised the ire of some county sheriffs.

"My plan is not to enforce it," says Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer.

Songer is one of about a dozen sheriffs, mostly in rural parts of the state, who have come out against the law. Some say they will apply certain measures — for instance, the background checks — but will ignore others. One sheriff said he is not going to arrest a 20-year-old farmer who happens to have a semi-automatic rifle with him on his tractor.

Songer is more absolutist. "As an elected sheriff and a constitutional sheriff, I believe it violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution," he says, "and, more specifically, violates the Washington state Constitution." Songer adds he won't enforce it unless — and until — the Supreme Court says it is constitutional.

Does a sheriff really have the right to do this?

Robert Wadman, a former police chief and a professor emeritus at Weber State University, says professional discretion is a constant feature of policing, as cops decide, for example, whether to arrest someone for simple drug possession or wait to see if they can follow the little fish to a bigger drug dealer.

"There's a litany of decision-making processes in almost every phase of policing, from the street to the leadership," Wadman says.

While he believes there's no "recipe" for figuring out when discretion crosses an ethical line, he thinks publicly refusing to enforce a law on constitutional grounds goes too far.

"I would not go down that path," he says. He thinks the Washington sheriffs' motivations are political, and he says, "For me, questions of this nature should be answered by the courts — not the court of public opinion."

Richard Mack, on the other hand, says the Washington sheriffs are doing their duty. Mack is a former Arizona sheriff who in the 1990s successfully challenged a federal law requiring state officers to do gun purchase background checks. Since then, he has popularized the term that Songer uses to describe himself, "constitutional sheriff."

"Sheriffs standing for freedom have the responsibility to interpose — it's the 'doctrine of interposition' — whenever anybody is trying to diminish or violate the individual rights of our counties," Mack says.

"Constitutional sheriff"

Mack runs an organization called the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, which has offered courses in this line of thinking to law enforcement officers. Mack won't disclose the names of sheriffs who have joined the association, so it's hard to gauge his influence.

"It is a thing that exists," says Mirya Holman, an associate professor of political science at Tulane University who has studied the attitudes of hundreds of sheriffs around the country. She says many are aware of Mack's doctrine, but their adoption of those ideas varies.

"There are sheriffs that endorse this; there's also, though, a lot of sheriffs that wouldn't fully endorse it but like some of the ideas that are contained within it," she says, such as the notion that federal authorities should notify local sheriffs whenever they perform law enforcement in that county.

Holman says the "constitutional sheriff" idea is fed by the political polarization in Western states — the Washington gun initiative, for instance, was passed primarily by voters in metro Seattle.

"Sheriffs are seeing laws being made potentially by voters in urban areas and feeling like they need to protect their population from these people who have very different attitudes about the way the world should be," Holman says.

Others point to more sinister roots for the phrase constitutional sheriff. Jared Goldstein, a professor at Roger Williams University School of Law, has written extensively about popular ideologies of this kind.

"It dates back to a movement from the '60s and '70s called the Posse Comitatus movement, that itself came out of the Ku Klux Klan," he says. "That isn't to say that there's a moral equivalence to the Klan and these constitutional sheriffs. But the idea that they can refuse to enforce laws that they disagree with is just the same."

Mack, the former Arizona sheriff, rejects that analysis.

"He's full of baloney and he obviously does not know me," Mack says. "Because that is not where this comes from."

Mack says his ideas would encourage sheriffs to refuse to enforce any law that violates civil rights — including the Jim Crow laws of the segregationist South.

Sheriffs have enormous autonomy

Ideologies aside, elected sheriffs have extraordinary freedom to pick and choose which laws to enforce.

"They have an enormous amount of autonomy," says Holman. "I'm not sure that there is another office that is a common office that has anywhere like the level of autonomy that sheriffs have."

The notion of an autonomous, elected law enforcement chief is uniquely American, and some wonder whether it still makes sense.

Last year, an analysis of the institution of sheriff in the Virginia Law Review by James Tomberlin concluded that the office of elected sheriff had outlived its usefulness.

"What perhaps made the sheriff attractive during westward expansion makes it obsolete at best and dangerously anachronistic at worst today by preventing local governments from acting as a meaningful check on the office's powers and holding the sheriff accountable," Tomberlin wrote.

Few states have curbed sheriff autonomy. One exception is Connecticut, where voters in 2000 eliminated the office of "high sheriff" after a series of scandals.

In Washington state, the sheriffs' autonomy is largely unquestioned. The only option for supporters of the new gun law is to call for the sheriffs to be voted out of office in the next election. The Democratic attorney general, Bob Ferguson, sent the sheriffs an open letter warning that they might be held liable — that is, sued by a private party — if their refusal to conduct background checks resulted in a gun crime.

The Democratic governor, Jay Inslee, accused the sheriffs of "a futile kind of grandstanding," and he told them to leave it to the courts to decide whether a law is constitutional. But he also tacitly acknowledged his lack of authority over them, by saying he will tell the State Patrol to enforce the law in counties where the sheriffs won't.
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Re: When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#2 Post by DispositionMatrix » Thu Feb 21, 2019 5:03 pm


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Re: When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#3 Post by senorgrand » Thu Feb 21, 2019 5:14 pm

Like when a state legalizes pot and law enforcement stops enforcing federal law?
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Release the tapes!

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Re: When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#4 Post by K9s » Thu Feb 21, 2019 5:24 pm

senorgrand wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 5:14 pm
Like when a state legalizes pot and law enforcement stops enforcing federal law?
I think that is different. This is county sheriffs deciding which laws to enforce state law depending on their base voter opinions without an overall federal law either way.
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Re: When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#5 Post by K9s » Thu Feb 21, 2019 5:25 pm

DispositionMatrix wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 5:03 pm
The disarmament lobby could always set its most ardent supporters loose against the non-compliant sheriffs.
That is messed up. I didn't realize that was a similar thread.
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Re: When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#6 Post by DuneHopper » Thu Feb 21, 2019 5:40 pm

Here, our Sheriff has continued to tell everyone he will not enforce these unconstitutional laws, he send a letter to Joe Biden and many others over the years. Has been seen at countless hearings in Salem. OR. Our fear is he is getting up in the years and make one wonder will the next Sheriff keep our county safe.
We already have two laws on the books protecting our Second Amendment, one passed by voters one pass but the Commissioners. Basically sealing the law intact.
78% of voters approved it so for now we are protected......For now. If many are wondering how such local laws matter? they do the same way legalizing Cannabis is done, by passing laws that create a legal barrier and precedence.
The US Constitution and Bill of Rights, are our civil rights, for all people.

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Re: When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#7 Post by K9s » Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:07 pm

DuneHopper wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 5:40 pm
Here, our Sheriff has continued to tell everyone he will not enforce these unconstitutional laws, he send a letter to Joe Biden and many others over the years. Has been seen at countless hearings in Salem. OR. Our fear is he is getting up in the years and make one wonder will the next Sheriff keep our county safe.
We already have two laws on the books protecting our Second Amendment, one passed by voters one pass but the Commissioners. Basically sealing the law intact.
78% of voters approved it so for now we are protected......For now. If many are wondering how such local laws matter? they do the same way legalizing Cannabis is done, by passing laws that create a legal barrier and precedence.
Some sheriffs, with support of their voters, have refused to investigate crimes that impact the minority of voters - under the guise of keeping "our" county safe.

Joe Arpaio is one such sheriff.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story ... ent-215566
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Re: When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#8 Post by highdesert » Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:19 pm

Joe Arpaio abused prisoners and targeted minorities for his own self promotion. These sheriffs would have been better saying they have limited staff and resources and have to prioritize enforcement and not let the media pin them down on specifics.
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Re: When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#9 Post by featureless » Thu Feb 21, 2019 7:03 pm

When one is counting on one's sheriff to protect them from unjust laws, something is broken. When court cases that impact rights contained in the Bill of Rights that impact millions of people take decades to decide, something is broken. Sanctuary cites, counties and states are a sign that something is broken. All of these indicate that laws are not working for the people yet politicians keep passing them and courts keep delaying or upholding them. What's the solution? I dunno.

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Re: When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#10 Post by K9s » Thu Feb 21, 2019 7:26 pm

featureless wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 7:03 pm
When one is counting on one's sheriff to protect them from unjust laws, something is broken. When court cases that impact rights contained in the Bill of Rights that impact millions of people take decades to decide, something is broken. Sanctuary cites, counties and states are a sign that something is broken. All of these indicate that laws are not working for the people yet politicians keep passing them and courts keep delaying or upholding them. What's the solution? I dunno.
I agree with that.

Funny how the White House can rush their pet cases to the SCOTUS whenever they want a ruling, though. The rest of us have to wait for some lawyer to take up a case pro bono.
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Re: When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#11 Post by DispositionMatrix » Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:45 pm

New Mexico:
'Second Amendment Sanctuary' movement called a 'childish pity party' by Democratic governor
More than half of the state's 33 counties have passed resolutions in opposition to a series of what they called gun control bills being considered by the state Legislature. Such “sanctuary” resolutions often say sheriffs should not have to enforce measures they consider unconstitutional. Officials have said the resolutions are symbolic in nature.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, criticized the movement in a series of Tweets: "A few law enforcement officers in this state have been making noise about how they won’t enforce gun safety measures because they don’t like them. That’s not how laws work, of course, and it’s not how oaths of office work either."

Grisham wrote she would continue to advocate for gun reforms, despite "NRA propaganda, rogue sheriffs throwing a childish pity party or bad-faith critics."

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Re: When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#12 Post by dougb » Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:03 pm

How can you be a Constitutionalist but claim you yourself are the judge who interprets the Constitution?

The Supreme Court is the final judge in all cases involving laws of Congress, and the highest law of all — the Constitution.
Section 2.

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;--between a State and Citizens of another State;--between Citizens of different States;--between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
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Re: When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#13 Post by DispositionMatrix » Sat Mar 02, 2019 8:38 pm

Maryland.
Wicomico Sheriff Mike Lewis: 'We will not comply' with restrictive gun bills in Maryland
Legislators heard testimony from constituents and public officials during a hearing on Monday that addressed 19 different bills related to firearms. When speaking to a room of people after testifying, Lewis reiterated his thoughts on these bills.

"We’re gonna let them know that we are sick and tired of being penalized for Baltimore City’s inability to control crime," Lewis told the room in a video that circulated on social media. "If these bills pass, we will not comply."

Lewis told Delmarva Now on Tuesday that he testified in Annapolis as the sheriff of Wicomico County and not as a representative for the Maryland Sheriffs Association, which has not taken positions on any gun-related legislation.
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Re: When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#14 Post by highdesert » Sat Mar 02, 2019 8:59 pm

Lewis pointed to Baltimore City and its high homicide rate as why lawmakers want to further regulate guns in the state.

"Law-abiding citizens are repeatedly being penalized because of Baltimore City's inability to control their crime," Lewis said. "And I'm sorry — I'm not someone's puppet. I'm going to stand up for what I think is unjust and unconstitutional to the American people, including those living in the state in Maryland."
:clap:

Elected officials battling elected officials, add on MD sheriff to WA and NM sheriffs.

edit: typo
Last edited by highdesert on Fri Mar 15, 2019 5:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#15 Post by DispositionMatrix » Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:58 am

WHAT HAPPENS IF SHERIFFS REFUSE TO ENFORCE STATE GUN-CONTROL LAWS?
Mace, who is also the president of the New Mexico Sheriffs' Association, says that he came up with the idea for the sanctuary resolutions one day while he was driving home from a particularly frustrating committee meeting for the background check bill, during which he says sheriffs' concerns had largely fallen on deaf ears. The initiative, he is quick to point out, was directly inspired by the immigration sanctuary movements that have been spearheaded in liberal communities throughout the country, in which certain jurisdictions direct state resources away from enforcing federal immigration laws, or otherwise do not cooperate with federal immigration officers.

"There are whole sanctuary county, city, and state movements, and those are essentially saying 'Hey, we can shield immigrants from the federal law,'" Mace says. "They're picking and choosing which laws they want to follow as a state, so we're thinking as a county, why can't we take this back to our commissioners and say we're going to draft a resolution that says our counties are Second Amendment sanctuary counties."

Mace is not alone in his efforts: Similar gun-sanctuary movements have arisen in at least four other states with Democratic-controlled legislatures in recent months, including Washington, Nevada, Oregon, and Illinois. In those states, as in New Mexico, the ideological schism between government and local law enforcement highlights a widening gulf between the state's rural and metropolitan populations.

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Re: When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#16 Post by featureless » Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:28 am

It occurs to me that when states make laws that are so far against neighboring states' laws (like sanctuary states--pick your particular sanctuary goals) to protect that state's values, we are no longer the United States.

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Re: When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#17 Post by K9s » Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:31 pm

Laboratories of democracy.

What happens when someone challenges state vs fed marijuana laws? Does SCOTUS decide? Congress?
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Re: When Sheriffs Won't Enforce The Law

#18 Post by BKinzey » Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:50 pm

jackjonas wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:41 am
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