In June CRS called on the Obama Administration to bring scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy to justice, along with the militants he rallied to an armed standoff with law enforcement in Nevada back in 2014. Our concern was, and is, that failing to promptly do so only further emboldens these radicals to greater extremes and more lawlessness.
The armed takeover and ongoing occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters in southeastern Oregon further validates that concern. It is no accident that two of Cliven Bundy’s sons, Ammon and Ryan, are ring leaders in this latest incident, or that other militants who participated in the 2014 standoff are also reportedly involved.
“People need to understand that the Bundy strain of radicalism is anti-American and dangerous,” said CRS president David Jenkins. “The Bundys—and the armed militants who back them up—are attacking our nation, its laws, its values, its history, and the democratic processes established by our forefathers. They are also trampling on the rights of every American. They are the opposite of conservative, and they will continue to bully, threaten, and test the limits of civil society until they are stopped.”
The initial excuse for taking over the Refuge headquarters was to prevent convicted arsonists Dwight and Steven Hammond, who set multiple wildfires and promised to “light up the whole country on fire,” from serving their five-year prison sentence. It is worth noting that the 9th Circuit Judges who ruled that the Hammonds had to serve the mandatory minimum are all conservative.
The militants now say that they want the United States to relinquish control of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which was established on August 18, 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt.
“Swift and effective justice in this case—and for the Bundy Ranch standoff—is not only essential to preserving the rule of law, it is essential to protecting the American concept of public lands and defending the property rights of every American,” Jenkins added.
The Bundy clan refuses to recognize public ownership of our national parks, forests and conservation lands. They also reject the authority of those entrusted by us to safeguard those lands. Ultimately, the only rights and opinions they care about are their own.
The Obama Administration would do well to follow the advice of Theodore Roosevelt when he said that the law “must be enforced with resolute firmness, because weakness in enforcing it means in the end that there is no justice and no law, nothing but the rule of disorderly and unscrupulous strength.”