By all accounts Cliven Bundy is an amiable guy – his friends call him “Clive”– but the Nevada rancher refuses to stand down in a land war with the Bureau of Land Management over delinquent grazing fees. His challenge to federal authority led to a conflict last weekend that threatened to erupt into violence.
He doesn’t stand alone. The Bundy family was joined by several hundred armed supporters in protest of the BLM’s seizure of Bundy’s cattle as punishment. The BLM backed down and returned the cattle.
That chapter of the skirmish is over, but the Bundy family still has the support of some well-armed defenders.
“We have a little bit of personal protection, here, yes,” says Cliven Bundy’s son Ryan.
Ryan Bundy says his family still needs defending because they fear retaliation by the BLM for having given the agency a “black eye.”
“Harry Reid’s already said this – it ain’t over, so who knows what will happen?”
Bundy’s supporters say he had every right to take the law into his own hands. But even Nevadans who self-identify as favoring limited government think employing a militia crosses a line.
“Libertarians should be outraged by Bundy’s behavior,” says attorney Tom Grover. “Might makes right is not how a civilized society should function.”
Asked whether he should have to follow a judge’s ruling, Ryan Bundy says “Not when they’re bad ... (the judge) wouldn’t even accept the full evidence into his courts ... everybody steps into the mud once in awhile. That judge stepped into the mud deep.”
Attorney Maggie McLetchie, formerly of ACLU Nevada says she supports the right to protest as protected by the First Amendment. But his actions, she says, put him in contempt of court and could lead to his arrest.
“Bundys don’t get to decide if their version of the law is correct,” says McLetchie. “We have courts for that.”
Dave Stix, Sr., member of the Nevada Cattlemen's Association
Steve Sebelius, columnist, Las Vegas Review-Journal
Maggie McLetchie, criminal defense attorney and former staff attorney, ACLU of Nevada
Tom Grover, attorney