In a letter obtained by CBS13, the sheriff informs the federal agency that its officers will no longer be able to enforce California state law anywhere in his county. . . .
The sheriff won’t give specifics, but he says he’s concerned about the number of complaints his department’s received against the federal officers.
This is just the type of resumption of local responsibilities I have urged in the County Rights project. Moves like this, even over limited areas of responsibility, are one step further in the advance of decentralization, and for that reason should be lauded.
And in this case, the move did not even come as an act of resistance. It was perfectly legal already for the Sheriff to do this. CBS 13 again:
We asked law professor John Myers if the sheriff’s actions can supercede the feds.
“Looks to me as though the sheriff can do this,” he said. “They don’t have state powers in the first place, but essentially the sheriff can deputize individuals to have authority in his or her jurisdiction.”
The Tenth Amendment Center comments on the situation:
Fact: Federal agencies do not have state powers. Due to the Constitution’s structure of dual sovereignty, the feds have no authority to enforce state laws. Furthermore, states cannot be compelled to enforce federal laws.
In 1994, the Tenth Amendment was reaffirmed by the Court when Sheriff Mack and Printz sued the Clinton Administration. The opinion in Mack and Printz v. United States stated, “The Framers rejected the concept of a central government that would act upon and through the States, and instead designed a system in which the State and Federal Governments would exercise concurrent authority over the people. The Federal Government’s power would be augmented immeasurably and impermissibly if it were able to impress into its service–and at no cost to itself–the police officers of the 50 States…Federal control of state officers would also have an effect upon the separation and equilibration of powers between the three branches of the Federal Government itself.”
Feds challenge the state authority all the time. FDA agents raid raw milk farmers at gunpoint; DEA agents nab drug dealers; ATF agents steal guns and sells them to cartels across the border; even IRS agents bust in SWAT style and take down tax evaders. All of these agencies are appointed and directed by the federal executive himself. And every single one of these federal agents need state and local help. All of these usurpations originate from the Prohibition era when the 18th Amendment was ratified and the Volstead Act was signed into law. . . .[W]hen the 18th Amendment was ratified, it specified that” federal and state governments would have concurrent powers to enforce the ban on intoxicating beverages.” Now the feds assume the states will just enforce any “law” it comes up with. . . .
One thing stands in the way: the sheriff! Not all states or counties have one, but the sheriff, an elected official, is usually known as the highest law enforcer of the county and has law enforcement powers exceeding that of any other state or federal official.