Sheriffs First Accusations and Answers by Gary Marbut, president Montana Shooting Sports Association (and author of Sheriffs First) These are some of the accusations made by opponents about Sheriffs First and answers to those accusations. ------------------- Accusation: Sheriffs First would be a radical departure from the status quo. Answer: If federal officers currently work well with the local sheriff, little would change. If federal officers do not work with the local sheriff now, the sheriff would have a tool available to obtain cooperation. ------------------ Accusation: Sheriffs cannot be arresting FBI agents. It is just unthinkable. Answer: We believe that FBI agents are among the most impeccably law-abiding people in our society. The personnel of FBI and the U.S. Marshal's Service have earned the reputation of being the most well-behaved of federal officers. We believe they would not knowingly violate Sheriffs First. Violations by federal officers of some other federal agencies would be more likely than by the FBI. However, there is a name for people who break the law. They are called outlaws. Outlaws are subject to arrest, regardless of who their employer may be. See discussion of qualified immunity below. --------------------- Accusation: The federal government (and its officers) is supreme ("Supremacy Clause") in all it does so Sheriffs First is unconstitutional. Answer: The laws passed by Congress only trump state laws when such federal laws are validly enacted and exercised within the enumerated powers of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. The Supremacy Clause only applies to the enumerated powers. The national government does not have general police powers, but the states do have general police powers. Is Sheriffs First "unconstitutional"? That depends on which end of the constitutional telescope you think should be closest to your eye. Here is the truth. If you believe and accept that the Tenth Amendment has been effectively and properly removed from the Constitution, that the Tenth Amendment is a "dead letter," and that the Tenth Amendment has effectively ceased to exist, then you will believe that Sheriffs First has no constitutional foundation and the federal government is supreme in everything it wants to do. Under this view, a person might well think Sheriffs First "unconstitutional." If you believe that the Tenth Amendment has meaning, that its presence in the Bill of Rights cannot be simply blinked away, that the Tenth Amendment must be given an equal seat at the table with the other nine articles of the Bill of Rights, and that the states should fight for recognition of the Tenth Amendment, then Sheriffs First is perfectly within a rational constitutional structure of government and is an expression of the proper relationship between the states and the national government created by the states. So, which end of the telescope do you use to view this important states' rights question? -------------------- Accusation: What about "qualified immunity"? Federal officers are immune to state laws, aren't they? Answer: "Qualified immunity" is basically the Nuremberg defense - it's okay to murder 12 million Jews because I was ordered to do so by my superior officer. That defense was debunked at the post-WWII Nuremberg Trials and international law established then to forever disallow that excuse for crime. Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal. Adopted by the International Law Commission of the United Nations, 1950. Principle IV The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him. Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal, 1950 Try this thought experiment: A federal agent is driving down the Interstate highway at 120 MPH when pulled over by a state's Highway Patrol officer. As the HP officer is writing out the citation, the federal officer tries to excuse his violation, "I'm a federal officer, this is during my working hours, I'm going from one urgent work assignment to another, and therefore I'm immune to your silly state laws." The HP officer would respond, "Tell that to the judge." When the federal officer tries that excuse on the judge, the judge responds, "Mr. Federal Officer, we have a variety of laws in this state, including laws to prohibit and punish for murder, rape robbery, and against going over 75 miles per hour on the Interstate highway. If you violate any of those laws while you are in this state, you will be held to account, regardless of who your employer may be. Your choices are to either pay the fine now or be escorted to jail. It's up to you Mr. Federal Officer." This hypothetical incident is corroborated by the outcome of Idaho v. Horiuchi, when Boundary County Idaho prosecuted FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi for manslaughter for shooting Vicki Weaver in the face through an open doorway and killing her while she held nothing more dangerous than her infant child in her arms. Federal attorneys defending Horiuchi "removed" the case to the federal district court and claimed qualified immunity for Horiuchi. The federal district court granted a motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity. Idaho appealed to the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth circuit reversed the district's qualified immunity finding and remanded the case back to Idaho courts for Horiuchi to be prosecuted for manslaughter under Idaho law.