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Principles and plans for proactively preventing wrongful aggression by state agents and residents

On Sagebrush Rebellions and State Sovereignty


The longstanding conflict between Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has recently erupted into the news, as the BLM enforces a Federal court order ordering the removal of Bundy’s cattle from his ancestral grazing lands, over which the BLM claims management authority.  I have not tried to analyze all the legal issues at play here, but the heart of the matter is apparently a conflict between the Federal Endangered Species Act and Bundy’s private property rights.  In short, Federal power against private property.

Most modern State Attorneys General would not deign to involve themselves in a conflict between Federal power and private property, especially if the Federal actors are acting under the authority of a Federal court order.  I see the proper role of a State Attorney General differently.

In the U.S. constitutional system, there is no effective check against expansion of Federal power except for State power and the power of the masses to ignore Federal edicts — as explicitly reserved by  the Tenth amendment.  Under natural law, private property rights arise out of local activities, and one of the key justifications for State power is to support institutions for orderly recording, protection, and disposition of real property rights within its borders.  Any Federal property claims that are not enforced through the State’s own courts are by definition foreign and antagonistic to State sovereignty.  Therefore, as the top law officer of the State, the Attorney General is obligated to check and balance any independent assertion of property rights within its borders, whether by the Federal government or any other foreign sovereign power.

That does not necessarily mean that the Attorney General should order officers to intervene in Federal enforcement actions, guns blazing.  I do not advocate for civil war.  But neither does it mean that the Attorney General should roll over and allow Federal agencies to enforce their own property claims within the State without any check or balance provided by State power.

Enforcement actions such as the BLM’s highly public thieving and wasting of Bundy’s cattle are both unseemly and unnecessary.  Such naked displays of aggression undermine public confidence in State sovereignty and property laws, besides inflaming public anger and feeding contempt for governments generally.  It is in the interests of both the general public and government at all levels to prevent such incidents from occurring.

State intervention against Federal trespass of State-based property rights should begin in the courtroom, extend through the public police agencies, and absent the direst of circumstances, should never involve violent confrontations between groups of State and Federal officials.  For example, the State should seek to intervene on the side of property holders in selected cases enforcing Federal power against property interests of State residents, train State officers regarding proper and effective means for protecting private property rights within the State against Federal claims, deprive Federal agencies who seek to take property without State authority of the benefit of using any State resources in support of their enforcement actions, and promote public understanding and support for private property rights based in natural law.  If elected, I would seek to allocate a reasonable portion of the resources at my disposal towards fulfilling these and similar objectives.

Posted in News & Views, Preventing Wrongful Aggression

When Oppression Masquerades As Law And Order

Those who defend and enforce unjust laws are oppressors and criminals.  Most people can understand that.  Why then do so many in law enforcement take the position that every law, no matter how stupid or oppressive, must be enforced?  One of my Republican primary opponents, David King, recently affirmed that he would enforce and defend laws that criminalize drugs, whether or not he thinks they are a good idea:


I disagree with David King on this issue.  Each person’s right to control her own food, medical treatment, and personal possessions is a fundamental human right.  The exercise of fundamental human rights is not a matter of social policy for legislators to criminalize.   Officers who enforce criminal laws against mere use or possession of a substance — whether it be cannabis or some other substance — are themselves committing immoral acts of aggression against the alleged drug “criminal.”

As Attorney General, I will refuse to enforce anti-drug laws against peaceful users and traders so long as no violence, threat of violence or fraud accompanies the use or sale of the thing in question.  I will not willingly order the officers under my supervision to commit immoral acts — even if by so doing I expose myself to threat of impeachment or lawsuit.

Above, King states that he would “defend and enforce” victimless crime laws “until a court directs otherwise.”  Not I.  If elected, I will exercise prosecutorial discretion and refuse to prosecute cases in which the only chargeable crime is possession or distribution of a substance or thing, whether that thing be a drug or a constitutionally protected weapon.  The Attorney General should defend the basic human right to right to control what you put into your own body – and to defend yourself by keeping and bearing arms responsibly.

In contrast, based on his position on substance criminalization, King would be willing to confiscate everyone’s weapons and put gun owners in jail, so long as the legislature passes the law.  If he would make an exception for guns, he is either unprincipled on the issue of whether the AG should refuse to prosecute immoral laws, or he does not believe that people have any fundamental human right to control what goes into their own bodies.  If he believes you have no right to control what goes into your own body, he would hold your body to be the property of the state.

So ask yourselves, “law and order” Republicans: does the law serve basic human rights, or is law enforcement free to violate human rights so long as supported by legislative process?  If the government can do whatever it wants “until a court directs otherwise,” who will protect you from the government?  If David King were Attorney General, certainly not him.

Protecting human rights does not mean being soft on true crime.  On the contrary, focusing police resources on actual dangerous criminals while allowing responsible sellers to operate makes things far tougher on the illegal cartels and unethical dealers.  Those who enforce prohibition on everyone facilitate profitable exploitation of the public by unethical dealers.

As Attorney General, I will enforce drug laws against violent cartels and dealers, those who sell drugs to children without parental consent, and those who intentionally push addictive and destructive drugs in a manner reasonably expected cause harmful addiction.  All of these activities are examples of criminal aggression against which defensive force is justified.

Posted in News & Views, Preventing Wrongful Aggression, Protecting Freedom

Let’s Restore Jury Nullification In California

The right and responsibility of a jury to judge both the facts and the law is a critical protection against government oppression that has been recognized in common-law countries for centuries.  Over 150 years ago, Lysander Spooner wrote of the importance of jury nullification, and warned of government efforts to restrict it, in his “Essay on Trial by Jury.”

Today, having been under assault in the United States for at least 150 years, jury nullification is almost forgotten by the general public.  Prosecutors don’t like it, because it reduces their ability to threaten defendants and coerce plea deals in marginal cases.  Judges don’t like it, because it reduces their power in the courtroom.  The police and prison industries don’t like it, because it reduces the number of criminals in their systems.  Jury nullification is not only helpful for preventing misuse of the law and unjust convictions, it also reduces taxpayer burdens and spurs healthy economic activity by preventing unnecessary imprisonments.

It’s far past time to end the hostility of the California justice system to jury nullification.  As chief law officer in the State, the Attorney General can have a tremendous impact on acceptance and use of jury nullification.  If elected, I would do everything in my power to ensure that every jury in California is instructed concerning its right and civic responsibility to judge not only the facts of the case, but the justice of the law applied.


Posted in News & Views, Preventing Wrongful Aggression, Protecting Freedom, Seeking Justice

Stop All Cannabis Prosecution & Civil Forfeitures

Cannabis (marijuana) is one of the safest psychoactive and medicinal plants known, far safer and less addictive than alcohol, caffeine and most prescription medications.  It is only illegal because of political pressure brought by special interests during a historical period in which most people were ignorant of its beneficial uses and relative safety.

Consequently, far more damage is done by enforcing laws against this plant and products made from it, than by its use or trade outside of the law.

Many innocent people have been imprisoned or have property stolen from them by state agents, merely for peacefully using or trading cannabis.  Although such people were accused of breaking laws, the anti-cannabis laws that were enforced against them were clearly unjust under natural law and unconstitutional under the California Constitution, by any rational measure.  Therefore, the people who enforced such laws against otherwise peaceful people were breaking their oaths to uphold the Constitution, and committing crimes under natural law.  Enforcement of anti-cannabis laws is wrongful state aggression.

There may come a day when the victims of such state aggression will be awarded restitution by courts of law.  If elected, I would refuse to prosecute anti-cannabis laws and to the extent possible, thwart enforcement or prosecution by any government agency.  This will reduce state aggression and protect California from future claims for restitution by anti-cannabis enforcement victims.

Posted in Preventing Wrongful Aggression

Exercise Prosecutorial Discretion

No victim, no crime!

As Attorney General, I would exercise the power of prosecutorial discretion to the maximum extent possible, to allocate state police and prosecution resources away from legal infractions in which nobody and nothing was wrongfully harmed or put at unreasonable risk of harm.

Instead, I would direct those resources towards preventing wrongdoing by individuals and entities who are either actually harming people or trespassing legitimate property interests of state residents or the State of California, or doing things that create an unreasonable risk of such harm or trespass.

Exercising prosecutorial discretion in the interests of justice is the right and responsibility of the Attorney General.

Posted in Preventing Wrongful Aggression, Protecting Freedom