Is Cliven Bundy an anti-Federalist?

Cliven Bundy with his ever-present copy of the Constitution in his pocket.

When you work with words, your words should work.

While it was gratifying to see the morning paper finally get around to writing about the difficulty federal prosecutors are having getting jurors to convict armed protesters in Oregon and Bunkerville of conspiracy — Now, where have I read that before? — this one description of cattle rancher Cliven Bundy caused a bit of whiplash: “notorious anti-federalist rancher Cliven Bundy …”

This is being said of a man who is invariably photographed with a copy of the U.S. Constitution prominently protruding from a breast pocket.

Strictly speaking — and you may accuse me of being a stickler — anti-Federalists were those who opposed the ratification of that Constitution in 1788. Bundy frequently cites the Constitution as the grounds for his contention that the state rather than the federal government is the proper custodian of public lands, and he and his supporters have on occasion cited the principles of Federalism.

Federalism is a system of governance in which federal powers are enumerated and limited, such as interstate commerce, while the state and local governments and citizens are free to exercise other powers, such as law enforcement and land use.

James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper No. 45: “The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

Yes, the anti-Federalists did in fact warn about the potential for the central federal government to grow too big and powerful until it usurps the rights and powers of the states and citizens — hence the Ninth and Tenth Amendments were added to assure ratification.

But Bundy and his ilk surely consider themselves strict constructionists rather than anti-Federalists.

Bundy talks about Federalism:


By the way, isn’t a conspiracy charge just a cheap way for prosecutors to pile on and try to double the penalty for a conviction? It is one thing to accuse someone of a crime and assess a penalty upon conviction, but then to double the penalty simply because that person had the audacity to talk to someone about it?


8 comments on “Is Cliven Bundy an anti-Federalist?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Mitch,you may some good points about Bundy and anit-federalism.

  2. robertleebeers says:

    “When you work with words, your words should work.” So you say, and then this quote further on down, “Bundy and his ilk”.

    A recent poll has placed reporters at the bottom of the respect scale. With politician and lawyers in the mix that is a significant accomplishment.

    In this soft condemnation of Cliven and his family and friends, notice the lack of the word “ilk” there, there seems to be little in the way of a point, much less a foundation for a piece at all. Perhaps you should go back to school and do some reading as to what set this whole chain of events off, including the political philosophies driving either side. If you do so, you will see that the Clark County Commission bears the lion’s share of the blame regarding an original; breach of contract and then attempting to shift responsibility to the BLM.

    Mister Bundy’s major “crime” is his stubborn refusal to be cheated, even by the deities of the Federal Government. Whether or not he is correct in his belief (no legal document trail has ever been shown to indicate he is wrong) that the original grazing rights contract is still in force, he was in error in stopping his payments. He should have continued to pay and to have his bank record the acceptance of the payments by the entity on the contract, Then, when sued he could have brought forth that record of payment. Of course, it has been fatal in the past to embarrass Country and Federal agencies in Nevada, so there is that.

  3. robertleebeers says:

    Sorry about the typo. The ; it right next to the l.

  4. I’ve explained several times that Bundy refused to pay the feds for allowing him to only graze from July to February — when desert range cattle actually lose weight.

  5. John Smith says:


    Sent from my iPhone


  6. Under the list of qualifications for copyeditor, No. 2 is stickler.

  7. Rincon says:

    “…but then to double the penalty simply because that person had the audacity to talk to someone about it?” A universal truth, Thomas. Seems to me though, that they would have been smarter to withhold the charge. In case they fail to convict. they can just try him again with the conspiracy charge. Not too different than the treatment given to the cops that beat up Rodney King. Tried twice for the same crime? Of course not!

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