ELKHART, Ind. (Dec. 8, 2011) – When states or individuals stand up against unconstitutional federal power, they need some muscle to back their action. The rightness of their cause, the nobility of their stand and the courage of their convictions does little to defend against armed federal agents with the power to arrest, fine and even imprison.

As constitutionally sworn law enforcement officers,  county sheriffs have the power and authority to step in and interpose on the behalf of citizens seeking to face down unconstitutional exercises of federal power.

Well known former Graham County, Ariz., Sheriff Richard Mack calls sheriffs “the last defense.”

One sheriff in Elkhart, Ind. takes that role seriously.

According to the Compliant Patient blog, Indiana raw dairy farmer Richard Hochstetler found himself in hot water with the feds when the FDA opened an investigation after an outbreak of illnesses officials linked to milk from his farm. After several inspections and attempted inspections of Hochstetler’s farm by federal agents, Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers stepped in and wrote two letters to the U.S. Department of Justice, warning it not to conduct inspections of the farm without a warrant issued by a local judge.

Compliant Patient blog editor David E. Gumpert reports that earlier this month, Rogers sent an email to Ross Goldstein, the DoJ attorney handling the case, warning, “any further attempts to inspect this farm without a warrant signed by a local judge, based on probable cause, will result in Federal inspectors’ removal or arrest for trespassing by my officers or I.”

Goldstein predictably countered with the mangled federal view of the Supremacy Clause, asserting that it, “has been interpreted since the earliest days of this nation to mean that federal law trumps state law whenever the two conflict.” He proceeded to threaten the Sheriff, contending the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act allowed federal agents “to enter Mr. Hochstetler’s property…without a warrant at all–pursuant to a long line of federal cases…” and,  “that the ‘refusal to permit entry or inspection as authorized by section 374’ is in itself a federal criminal offense, which under certain circumstances is a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to three years…”

Rogers reportedly refused to back down, responding in a letter sent Wednesday:

“When you assert that federal law trumps state law, it is a distortion of the intent, content and extent of the supreme law of the land–the U.S. Constitution-seen through a myopic and misunderstood view of Article VI, section 2 (The Supremacy Clause).”

He went on to blast the feds for exercising unconstitutional power. “The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act could be deemed unconstitutional if and when challenged vis-a-vis the Tenth Amendment juxtaposed with The Commerce Clause.”

He added that “our form of government was based on the principle that all officials exist to secure ‘Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.’…Your ‘cosmetic’ regulations will never ‘trump’ those principles. The citizen in question is a good man and has committed no crime. He is an upstanding member of this community. He does not have to allow you access to his property for the FDA to conduct random inspections.”

While the Supremacy Clause does declare laws “made in pursuance of” the Constitution of the United States stand supreme, it does not allow for the federal government to enforce any old act it pleases. Unconstitutional acts, by definition, do not stand as law, and are null and void. Rodgers apparently understands the limits of federal power and stands prepared to step in when the feds overstep their authority.

The Dept. of Justice has reportedly withdrawn a subpoena of Hochstetler. He was scheduled to testify before a grand jury in Detroit on Thursday. The Amish farmer had indicated that he would not answer questions or produce documents based on his Fifth Amendment rights. Gumpert reports Goldstein sent Hochstetler a letter saying, “Based on your representation that Forest Grove Dairy is a sole proprietorship and that you refuse to produce any responsive documents based on the assertion of rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution against self-incrimination, I write to advise you that you are released from the subpoena until further notice.”

It remains unclear what prompted the feds to back down on their subpoena. Perhaps a little spine shown by a county sheriff had some impact.

For information on Sheriff Mack’s County Sheriffs Project to protect liberty, click here.

Mike Maharrey

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