Sympathy for Bundy; respect for the rule of law

I agree with John that we should be sympathetic toward Cliven Bundy. I’m sympathetic toward anyone who is gouged by the federal government — a class, arguably, of millions. And the gouging of Bundy seems like a particularly egregious case.

But beyond the matter of sympathy lies the question of whether Bundy and/or his supporters would be justified in engaging in armed resistance if the federal government attempts to carry out the court orders with which they disagree.

I say that armed resistance would be wrong. As John explained, “legally, Bundy doesn’t have a leg to stand on.” Legally, he is required to pay the grazing fee and limit the grazing of his cattle. His claim that the federal government doesn’t own the land in question is simply wrong and has been rejected by the courts.

Bundy can refuse to pay the grazing fee, just as I can refuse to pay my taxes. But in a nation governed by the rule of law, non-compliance with the law has consequences. Armed resistance to those consequences is, as I say, wrong.

I agree with this passage from Abraham Lincoln, quoted today by Rich Lowry in connection with the Bundy matter:

When I so pressingly urge a strict observance of all the laws, let me not be understood as saying there are no bad laws, nor that grievances may not arise, for the redress of which, no legal provisions have been made. — I mean to say no such thing. But I do mean to say, that, although bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible, still while they continue in force, for the sake of example, they should be religiously observed.

So also in unprovided cases. If such arise, let proper legal provisions be made for them with the least possible delay; but, till then, let them, if not too intolerable, be borne with.

I can conceive of a “course of human events” in which armed resistance to our government would be justified. Fortunately, we are nowhere that point at the Bundy Ranch or anywhere else.

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