Thomas Mitchell: Constitution stretched to the breaking point

If words can mean anything anyone says they mean, then words are meaningless. That is what the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has done with the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

The appellate court overturned a federal judge who found that the Commerce Clause does not give Congress the power under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to regulate a species that exists only within the boundaries of one state and has no commercial value whatsoever — specifically the Utah prairie dog.

Nevada has joined with Utah and 21 other states to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to strike the circuit court ruling, saying that if the ruling stands “then Congress has virtually limitless authority, and the Tenth Amendment is a dead letter,” as well as the concept of federalism. (prairiedogamicusbrief)

If Nevada is to have any control over any economic activity within its borders, which include numerous endangered and threatened species, it is vital that the high court reverse this Constitution-rendering exercise in legerdemain.

Continue reading

Prosecutors ordered to share reports on any camera, armed officers’ surveillance outside Bundy ranch

LAS VEGAS — Prosecutors in the Bundy trial must provide information by noon Saturday on all armed federal officers who did surveillance outside the Bundy ranch and any cameras capturing images of the Bundy home between March 1 and April 12, 2014, a judge ordered Wednesday.

The information must be turned over to the defense.

It could help Cliven Bundy, sons Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy and co-defendant Ryan Payne challenge the allegation that they used “deceit and deception” to encourage supporters to come to the ranch by saying the house was surrounded, federal snipers were outside the home and the family felt isolated.

Defense lawyers said they learned for the first time on Tuesday of two federal officers dressed in camouflage and armed with AR-15 rifles posted outside the Bundy residence at night.

That information was contained in a written report that they received from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in preparation for Wednesday’s hearing on disputed discovery evidence.

“Wouldn’t it be important for the defense to know FBI agents are overlooking the Bundy residence with an AR-15?” asked Brenda Weksler, one of Payne’s defense lawyers. “How do we not have this until yesterday?”

Continue reading

Thomas Mitchell: A jury of their peers? Hardly

A federal jury is set to begin hearing opening statements Tuesday in the trial of four defendants in the Bunkerville standoff.

There are six women and six men on the jury and there are four alternates, three men, and a woman.

The judge said the trial is expected to take four months. A number of potential jurors were dismissed because they could not take four months out of their lives to devote to the trial. How many people can or are willing to? Is it a jury of their peers?

On trial is rancher Cliven Bundy, 71, sons Ammon Bundy, 42, and Ryan Bundy, 45, and a self-styled militia member Ryan Payne, 34, who showed up to protest the confiscation of Bundy’s cattle by the BLM. They are charged with conspiracy, extortion and various firearm charges. They have all been jailed for going on two years.

Continue reading

Eric Parker To Plead To a Misdemeanor

The Trial of the Century has gotten a little bit smaller.

Currently, 6 men are expected to be tried in the Bunkerville Standoff trial expected to begin jury selection on October 30th. Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, as well as Ryan Payne are ready. Eric Parker and Scott Drexler are scheduled for their third trial, after two previous trials this year resulting in acquittals and deadlocked verdicts.

But Parker and Drexler have been offered plea agreements by the government that will allow them to close the book on this chapter of their lives.

Continue reading

BLM experiments with ‘flexible’ grazing permits

The Bureau of Land Management is taking applications from Western states to test outcome-based grazing, which enables ranchers to manage according to current conditions rather than rigid permit requirements. BOISE — Mike Courtney may finally get the chance to implement a more common-sense grazing approach to controlling weeds and minimizing the wildfire risk in the Berger Resource Conservation Area.

Courtney, manager for the Bureau of Land Management’s Twin Falls District, will apply to include the grazing area south of Buhl in a BLM pilot project, testing a new approach intended to increase flexibility in grazing permits.

Continue reading

Thomas Mitchell Newspaper column: Bill would limit power to create national monuments

The House Committee on Natural Resources this past week approved a bill sponsored by Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop to rein in the powers granted by the Antiquities Act of 1906 that allow a president to unilaterally create huge national monuments.

The bill advanced on a party line vote of 27-13, with Democrats in opposition.

The bill, H.R. 3990, the National Monument Creation and Protection Act, amends the Antiquities Act to limit the size of future monuments and specifically grants the sitting president the power to reduce the size of existing monuments — a power Democrats have argued President Trump does not have under current law.

During his administration President Obama created 26 national monuments totaling more than 500 million acres — including the 700,000-acre Basin and Range National Monument on the border of Lincoln and Nye counties and the 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument in Clark County.

Continue reading

More than a third of National Park Service employees harassed at work; Zinke calls for accountability, transparency

ST. GEORGE — Federal officials on Friday released the results of a survey in which 39 percent of National Park Service employees said they had experienced harassment or discrimination on the job, then vowed to take immediate action to deal with the problem.

“From day one, I made it clear that I have zero tolerance for harassment in the workplace, and I directed leadership in the National Park Service to move rapidly to improve accountability and transparency,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said. “All employees have the right to work in an environment that is safe and harassment-free.

“I’ve removed a number of people who were abusive or acted improperly that other administrations were too afraid to or just turned a blind eye to. Under my leadership, we’re going to hold people accountable. We are also fixing the problem of victims being afraid of retaliation or inaction by codifying the right for victims to report abuse to any manager in any location across the service, and by bringing on an independent, investigative partner.”

Continue reading

Declining populations of threatened bull trout along two rivers in Oregon’s Malheur National Forest were not caused by grazing authorizations, a federal judge has ruled.

Environmentalists have failed to prove that grazing along two rivers in Oregon’s Malheur National Forest unlawfully harmed the threatened bull trout, according to a federal judge.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak has found that the U.S. Forest Service’s grazing authorizations along the Malheur and North Fork Malheur rivers haven’t violated environmental laws.

Papak has recommended dismissing a lawsuit filed against the agency by the Oregon Natural Desert Association and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Continue reading

Cliven Bundy: Feds don’t own Western states

Larry Klayman shares news in battle over land seized illegally by U.S. government. Events important for preserving America’s Constitution will be soon unfolding. Nevada rancher Cliven D. Bundy’s federal trial will finally begin in Las Vegas, Nevada, for a 2014 peaceful protest in support of the Constitution some incorrectly called “The Battle of Bunkerville.”

In fact, there was no battle from the standpoint of the peaceful protesters. Rather, it was the federal government – then run by former President Barack Obama – that threatened the Bundy family’s lives, beat the heck out of the sister of Cliven Bundy, Tasered his two sons, violently kicked the family dog and killed many of their cattle, burying them in a mass secret grave.

Continue reading

Antiquities Act weakens rural communities by robbing them of lands

GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said Wednesday that the Antiquities Act of 1906 represents the kind of collusion among special interests, bureaucrats and the executive that he was elected to fight.

“[The Antiquities Act] is an attack on our republican form of government that weakens rural communities by robbing them of agency and opportunity on the surrounding lands,” Lee said in a speech at a joint Heritage Foundation and Sutherland Institute event Wednesday on abuses of the Antiquities Act. “What is needed is wholesale reform of the Antiquities Act, to return its monumental power back to where it belongs: To the people who reside closest to the proposed monuments.”

Continue reading

BLM Potential chief clashed with agency, represented Bundy

Wyoming-based property rights attorney Karen Budd-Falen yesterday acknowledged she is under consideration to become the next director of the Bureau of Land Management but said she has yet to determine if she would want to take the helm of the agency she has clashed with throughout her career.

Budd-Falen, who spoke with E&E News from her Cheyenne, Wyo., law office, said she has spoken with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke about the post, although she does not know when the Trump administration will select a nominee.

A spokesman for the Interior Department said this week he did not have any information on potential nominees or the selection process.

But while Budd-Falen, who served on the Trump administration’s transition team at Interior, acknowledged that she is interested in leading the agency, she added that she is torn about potentially leaving her home state.

Continue reading

Defendant in Bundy ranch standoff, weapons case argues Las Vegas massacre would bias jury

An unusual ripple effect of the mass shooting that left 58 people dead and hundreds wounded along the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday is that it could have implications for a high-profile federal trial that is set to begin here next week — a case that also involves weapons.

A Montana militiaman who is accused of weapons charges and conspiring against the U.S. government asked a federal judge this week to delay his trial by 60 days because of the Las Vegas shooting. The charges against Ryan Payne stem from the 2014 Bundy ranch standoff in Bunkerville, Nev., and the trial is slated to start with jury selection Oct. 12.

On Thursday, Payne’s attorneys filed an additional motion, seeking to move the trial out of Las Vegas and to a different venue nearly 450 miles away: the federal courthouse in Reno, Nev. They argued that it would be impossible to seat a fair jury in light of the gun-related massacre.

Continue reading

Trump okays emergency wildfire funding, urges quick Forest Service reforms

On the afternoon of October 4, President Trump’s Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney, announced the Administration would work with Congress to fund $577 million in supplemental wildfire disaster relief. The announcement came shortly after 32 members of the Congressional Western Caucus submitted a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), calling for a swift response to the nation’s wildfire crisis. With the approval for funding also came a request from the Trump Administration for quick Forest Service management and budgeting reforms to correct the failed policies which have resulted, in part, in this year’s devastating wildfires.

Continue reading

Deep State at the Department of the Interior

Ryan Zinke, the secretary of the Interior Department, said that almost a third of his agency’s employees aren’t exactly President Donald Trump supporters — or fans of the American flag, for that matter.

Holy cow. Why are they still there? Talk about a deep state.

It’s one thing to work in the federal government for people with whom you politically disagree. It’s another thing entirely to work in the federal government of a country you don’t entirely support.

In a different day, a different time, that’d be cause for a red flag followup from U.S. intel agents concerned about government collapse or takeover from communist-aligned enemies, or otherwise anti-American forces.

Continue reading

Newspaper column Thomas Mitchell : Zinke’s national monument modifications too modest

Frankly, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s memo to President Trump recommending modifications to a few national monuments — including the 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument in Clark County — is far too modest, but it has the Democratic contingent of Nevada’s Washington delegation squealing like a pig stuck under a gate.

Zinke recommended unspecified changes to the Gold Butte boundaries but totally ignored the massive 700,000-acre Basin and Range National Monument that straddles the border between Nye and Lincoln counties, even though members of the Congressional Western Caucus recommended reducing it to 2,500 acres — “the smallest area compatible,” as the law says, to protect the Indian petroglyphs there.

Continue reading

Bunkerville Standoff: Make This Case Go Away!

The pressure from the elected officials and the public have made a dramatic difference in the Bunkerville Standoff case. Plea deals are being offered for multiple defendants this week.

Rumors abound that the prosecution is acting as if they have been told to “make this case go away”. There have been offers of plea agreements given to several defendants, including Ryan Payne, Pete Santilli, Eric Parker and Scott Drexler. There have been NO reports of any acceptance of offers, but negotiations continue.

Speculation is also running on possible plea agreements for other defendants scheduled for trial later, including Mel and Dave Bundy.

Now is the time to double-down on the letters and phone calls! Keep up the pressure! Let AG Sessions know what a miscarriage of justice this case has become. It is working!

Continue reading