The Power of the Sheriff

on Mar 10 in Articles by

The Battle for America will be decided in your county, at your front door. The local County Sherriff, with the full backing of the US Constitution and recent US Supreme Court decisions, can interdict and veto the exercise of unlawful government power within his county. Right now, it is vital that we restore the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. The founders of our nation were afraid of one thing more than any other… government having too much power! Remember, they escaped from the tyranny of an oppressive and controlling government when they established this nation. They fought and died for it, and now we are letting these same freedoms they fought for slip away. The government is out of control. Under Article 1, Section 8, the federal government does have authority under eighteen enumerated assignments, eighteen duties. Anything outside of that, they have no authority to do it. Therefore, about 98 % of everything they do is outside of their Constitution authority, and therefore, illegal.

On June 27th, 1997, in Printz v. U.S. (521 U.S. 898), the U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a ruling for the Court, in which he explained our system of government at length. The justly revered system of checks and balances is the key: “. . . The great innovation of this design was that ‘our citizens would have two political capacities, one state and one federal, each protected from incursion by the other’” – “a legal system unprecedented in form and design, establishing two orders of government, each with its own direct relationship, its own privities, its own set of mutual rights and obligations to the people who sustain it and are governed by it.” (P. 920)

Scalia quotes President James Madison, “Father” of the Constitution: “The local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent portions of the supremacy, no more subject, within their respective spheres, to the general authority than the general authority is subject to them, within its own sphere.” The Federalist, No. 39 at 245.

Again and again, Justice Scalia pounds the point home (page 921): “This separation of the two spheres is one of the Constitution’s structural protections of liberty: ‘Just as the separation and independence of the coordinate branches of the Federal Government serve to prevent the accumulation of excessive power in any one branch, a healthy balance of power between the States and the Federal Government will reduce the risk of tyranny and abuse from either front.’. . .” Gregory, 501 U.S. at 458.

He quotes President Madison again: “In the compound republic of America, the power surrendered by the people is first divided between two distinct governments, and then the portion allotted to each is subdivided among distinct and separate departments. Hence a double security arises to the rights of the people. The different governments will control each other, at the same time that each will be controlled by itself.” (P. 922)

No one could make this any clearer. The primary purpose of the Founding Fathers was to prevent someone from grabbing all the power. When that happens, they knew the result is an arbitrary, confiscatory government, the kind Thomas Jefferson described in the Declaration of Independence. We would call it totalitarian. To prevent that from happening, they divided the power. First, they divided the federal power into three parts: the executive, the legislative and the judicial. They would bicker among themselves, so that no one of them could seize the limited power the Constitution grants to the federal government. The Founding Fathers divided the power even more. They set the power the Constitution grants to the “general authority,” (Madison’s term for the federal government), against the vast residual powers of the states. Each sphere of government, state and federal, would be supreme in its own sphere. Neither could control the other. Each protects itself from intervention by the other. Each has its own laws and rules. That is why applying pressure on all State Legislatures to implore its 10th Amendment rights is imperative as the battle for America wages on.

Madison says this: “Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.” Loc. Cit. The highest level of a “subordinate government” is the County. And the term “militia” is also referred to as “the posse”.

What does all this mean today in the battle for America? It proves that the sheriff is the highest governmental authority in his county. Within that jurisdiction – inside his county – the sheriff has more power than the governor of his state. Indeed, the sheriff has more power in his county than the President of the United States. In his county, he can overrule the President and kick his people out. Remember, the President has few and limited powers.

James Madison said in the Federalist Papers: “We can safely rely on the disposition of the State Legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority.” That is what the Sheriff is empowered to do. Fortunately, our system of government gives power to the County Sheriff to either ignore or enforce Federal law. The President of the United States cannot tell the County Sheriff what to do in his own county. Neither can Congress. Neither can the Supreme Court. The County Sheriff is not the Gestapo of the federal government. Quite the opposite. The County Sheriff is elected by the people – not employed by any branch of the government. He takes an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Therefore, his loyalty is towards protecting freedom and the written rule of law.

Ultimately, the County Sheriff is the people’s check to balance any overreaching authority of the government. He decides which laws are Constitutional and will be enforced and which laws violate his citizens’ rights and will be ignored. And for the choices he makes, he will answer directly to the citizens of his county – not the federal government. Remember, in our country, the people are the highest authority and have the ultimate responsibility.

The Sheriff Project, Copyright © 2009. All Rights Reserved.

Alan Stang,


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