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Sheriffs vowing to ignore the law is a scary trend

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POSTED April 6, 2013 2:21 a.m.

The next time someone takes an oath of office they might want to read the first 15 words in the constitution they’re swearing to uphold.

It’s fairly straightforward: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union . . .”

Note the words “we” and “form a more perfect Union.”

For all the emphasis the founding document gives to individual rights, it is clear the Declaration of Independence is for a nation seeking unity and not a bunch of “my way or no way” cliques.

A day doesn’t go by now without some elected sheriff proclaiming they won’t enforce such and such a proposed gun control law if it passes because they have decided it’s unconstitutional. The same goes for government agencies including the Obama Administration as demonstrated in their refusal to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act. Dutifully passed laws hold no weight for those whose idea of a more perfect union is one molded by their biases and views and not be a collaborative effort.

There are three branches of government - Congress that makes the laws, the executive branch or bureaucracy that carries out the laws, and the judicial branch that decides on the constitutionality of the laws. Nowhere is there any indicated in the constitution that all three functions are supposed to be wrapped up into one branch. If the Founding Fathers had wanted government by fiat they never would have split from the crown.

Courts for years have been slammed for being judicial activists by supposedly making law through their decisions. Now the trend seems to be those in the executive branch or bureaucracy flatly declaring something that is passed legally by elected representatives is unconstitutional and therefore they won’t enforce it without even taking the issue to court.

There are a lot of laws I’m not wild about. That however doesn’t give me the right to ignore or break them.

We are a nation of laws. It is what holds the fabric of civilization together.

And while I may agree with some of the viewpoints of the sheriffs, I abhor their declaring they are above the law based on their personal interpretation of the constitution.

We have never been 100 percent in agreement on what the words of the constitution actually mean in day-to-day life. It has been like that since the beginning of the republic. You simply can’t expect everything to go your way and for everyone to believe as you do.

Yes, the right to bear arms is a core issue to our existence as a nation. But so is law and order whether it is in our streets, our markets, or our government.

Having an administration willfully ignore the will of a duly elected Congress is a step toward chaos. So is having law enforcement officials essentially making constitutional rulings on what laws they will enforce this week.

No one is asking anyone to become Stepford citizens.

Give and take, reach a decision for the common good, lick your wounds and then move forward together. That is what has made America work for 237 years.

Just because someone is a sheriff or works for the White House does not justify either saying they will - or actually undermine - powers invested not in them but in others through the constitution.

The last time that self-centered and destructive notion took root it cost the lives of 625,000 Americans and almost ripped apart the fabric of the union.



This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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