The defense of a madman is often incomprehensible, but in this case, it is just plain stupid and literally ignores what experts call an “unmistakeable legal reality.” Ammon Bundy’s attorneys want a hearing so they can argue that the Enclave Clause of the Constitution prohibits the U.S. government from owning or managing public lands.
Lissa Casey, one of Bundy’s lawyers, wrote:
The motion to dismiss in this case will challenge the Federal Government’s authority to assert ownership over the land that is now known as the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. It is Defendant’s position that this authority is critical to the Federal Government’s authority to have federal employees work on that land.
Jurisdiction in this case will determine whether the Federal Government can prosecute protesters for being there at all.
His legal defense team believes that they can void the charge against him alleging interference with the work of government scientists and others who manage the Oregon nature preserve because if the government isn’t allowed to own land, then they weren’t allowed to have scientists there — so there was no crime. Perhaps, however, turning to the legal fairy tales they whisper to each other while cleaning their guns and stockpiling snacks prepping for sedition was a bad idea as a defense strategy.
Not that we are shocked, but Ammon Bundy’s legal defense has the experts laughing. It is, of course, a delusion in direct opposition of “200 years of case law,” but it is one that he thinks excuses his criminal armed takeover, theft, and destruction of government property. And that many experts find hilarious (not that this is the only thing that the Y’all Qaeda has given us to laugh about).
Susan Smith, a law professor at Willamette University, said:
The unmistakable legal reality is that a series of solid, indisputable U.S. Supreme Court cases establishes that the federal government is constitutionally empowered to own land, control that land through federal statutes and regulations as it sees fit, and dispose of that land if it chooses to ‘without limitation.’
He probably should have gone with an insanity plea, being warped since childhood by a reality-resistant, religious extremist anti-government sect may actually be a reason for incarceration in a little white coat instead of an orange jumpsuit. His actual plea rest on the fiction that the government can not prove it owns the land: because he doesn’t think they should own it and as an adult he has chosen not to move away from the insanity he was raised with.
It isn’t like he hasn’t already been told, clearly, by a federal judge, that ignorance is no excuse; you would think they would have started trying to find a way to actually defend themselves instead of continuing to shoot themselves in the foot with legal tomfoolery and fairy tales.
He’s welcome to “shoot himself in the foot,” again with an asinine and unfounded defense if he wishes: or as Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Western Priorities, said:
We look forward to Ammon Bundy’s attempt to re-litigate 200 years of jurisprudence regarding the property clause, and United States v. Oregon, the 1935 Supreme Court case that specifically established the American people’s ownership of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Eventually, maybe they will realize that turning to the legal fairy tales they whisper to while cleaning their guns may not have been the best defense strategy.
Featured image via Getty Images/Justin Sullivan