Anti-U.S. Sentiment in the Indiana General Assembly

Sen. Kruse has introduced SB 127 which, aside from some limited exceptions, purports to forbid federal employees from making arrests without the consent of the local sheriff. One of the exceptions refers to arrests made on a federal “enclave.” It’s as if Sen. Kruse regards the United States government as a foreign power. This appears to come out of a movement that regards the Sheriff’s authority as paramount under the 10th Amendment. Check the case reports for cases in which I’ve been involved, and you’ll find that I’m wildly pro-Sheriff. But I’m pretty sure President & General Washington decided this question fairly decisively when he rode at the head of 13,000 soldiers to put down the Whiskey Rebellion.

My understanding is that this movement has as something of an underpinning, the case of Printz v. United States which restricted the ability of Congress to commandeer local law enforcement officers to enforce federal law. This legislation stands that principle on its head to some degree; prohibiting the federal government from enforcing its own laws without permission from local officials.

I’m a citizen of Indiana and of the United States. And, while I’m happy to be a Hoosier, I find Sen. Kruse’s hostility to the United States and enforcement of its duly enacted laws not a little troubling.

In a similar vein, we have Sen. Boots SB 230 which purports to have the General Assembly give itself the authority to nullify federal law. Like President Washington put down the Whiskey Rebellion and answered the question about whether the federal government could enforce its laws; President Lincoln answered the question of nullification when he put down the southerners who were committing treason in defense of slavery.

Sen. Boots dresses up his legislation as applying generally to federal laws the general assembly deems unconstitutional, but singles out Obamacare for nullification and then does not include in his legislation any process by which the General Assembly is expected to find any other federal regulation unconstitutional.

Treason in defense of slavery was evil, but at least the rationale was somewhat understandable. Doing it in defense of keeping the crappy health care insurance system we have now is just weird.


  1. Carlito Brigante says

    Elkhart County, Ind., Sheriff Brad Rogers told of chasing federal regulators out of his county after they repeatedly did inspections at an Amish dairy farm that was selling raw milk. He threatened to arrest the regulators if they tried to come back.

    Tough guy.

    Nullification and a “Sheriff’s Movement” in the 21st century. Ain’t God been good to Indiana.

  2. varangianguard says

    Amazing that the Republican party has turned on its collective pinheads from the defenders of the Republic to the House of Un-American Activities. And only in 150 years.

  3. Carlito Brigante says

    House of Un-American Activities. Well stated.

    When I was in high school, a couple of cranks would write letters to the editor to the local newspaper. They were basically form letters from the John Birch Society and the Constitution Party. And you would occasionally see a wooden sign that said “Get the US out of the UN” or “McCarthy was Right.” But one would never believe that they were the heart of the Republican party.

    Believe it now.

  4. Johnny from Badger Grove says

    This Sheriff fetish and nullification stuff is right from the core of the Sovereign Citizen movement. I’d like to find out if Boots and Kruse hold Indiana drivers licenses?
    I used to work with a “sovereign”. He was a very scary man.

    • Carlito Brigante says

      There are a few of these types in Kosciusko and Whitley County. They made their own license plates from cardboard.

      When I was a law clerk I did work for secured and unsecured creditors in farm bankruptcies. We would get title reports on some of these clowns. They would file mortgage releases issues by some fantasy “Citizens Courts” and these clown courts would issue huge judgements against anyone handy. And they also had “Bank drafts” drawn on clown banks that they would use to make their payments.

      There are now state statutes prohibiting the recording of such clown documents.

      • Doug says

        Reminds me a bit of the “redemption” silliness I blogged about a couple of years ago. It’s tied to magical thinking about the law that leads you to conclusions like, “if the document doesn’t use all caps in the right places, it isn’t binding on me.”

        Usually schemes involving this “above or beyond the law” thinking are promoted by the unscrupulous and purchased by the desperate and gullible who would like to get out from under some legal constraint — often some kind of debt.

        But, it also has appeal for people who have a hard time reconciling the fact that they are really a very, very small part of a very, very large country, world, and universe. In his book, “Under the Banner of Heaven,” Jon Krakauer talks about how the Lafferty boys went, essentially, “sovereign citizen.” The ball really got rolling when Ron Lafferty’s wife left him, and he was left with a choice between viewing himself as a small man with a broken home or a prophet of God beset by challenges and enemies. He went with the latter.

        Mark Pitcavage has done some extensive work studying these movements. Here is one article he’s done.

        • Carlito Brigante says

          Interesting, Dog. (with a capital “D” for deference)

          These movements would share some common elements and genesis. Cuckoos of a feather.

          I wanted to deposit one of these “drafts” just to see what would happen, but of course that would give them a “defense” of payment, discharge, and the chance to spout some more Middle English and Latin Phrases in clown pleadings. And I would have had to waste time looking up the phrases and terms in Blacks.

          It is a good thing these people are somewhat angry and antagonistic over everything. If they would combine forces into a third political party, they might take 2-3% of the popular vote from Republican candidates.

          • jharp says

            “If they would combine forces into a third political party, they might take 2-3% of the popular vote from Republican candidates.”

            J. Donnelly Dem 49.9% 1,268,407
            R. Mourdock GOP 44.3% 1,126,832
            A. Horning Lib 5.8% 146,453

  5. Doug says

    Mark Pitcavage on the sovereign citizens:

    In essence a sovereign citizen is an adherent to a political ideology derived from the Posse Comitatus and other tax protest and extremist groups of the 1970s and 1980s. Suchgroups posited that as a result of a lengthy conspiracy designed to replace the original, legitimate government (the de jure government) with an illegitimate, tyrannical one (the de facto government), there are now two types of citizens: FourteenthAmendment citizens and sovereign citizens. Fourteenth Amendment citizens arepeople who have unknowingly subjected themselves to the jurisdiction of the de facto government and are thus subject to the laws and taxes of the federal and state governments. Sovereign citizens are people who are subject only to the common law. They have absolute mastery over all their property (including freedom from taxes, regulations, licenses, zoning restrictions, permits, etc.), they have to pay virtually notaxes except tariffs, and they are not citizens of the United States but are non-resident aliens with respect to that illegal corporation. The only court which has jurisdiction over them is a common law court, and they can never be arrested or tried for a crime or matter in which there is no victim to lodge a complaint.

    In terms of courtroom behavior, the key sovereign citizen belief is the court he or she is in is an illegitimate court that has no jurisdiction over the sovereign citizen. Thus regardless of the mental alertness of the defendant, he or she may be unlikely to agree with any decision or action by the court. Most sovereign citizens believe that a court only has power over them if they agree that it has jurisdiction over them, so they may be energetic and strident in opposing virtually any effort by the court to conduct proceedingsor maintain order. Similarly, sovereign citizens are at best highly distrustful of lawyers, and this includes defense attorneys. Public defenders assigned to assist sovereign citizens will often be made very unhappy by the hostility with which their clients regard them. In most cases, in fact, sovereign citizens will demand the right to defend themselves, rather than have a title of nobility represent them.

  6. Soapbox0916 says

    Interesting reading this blog entry and then next reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about James Buchanan dies, Nobel Prize winner for economics, who was known for arguing that public officials often act in their self-interest instead of the public interest, and that he advocated a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget to force politicians to curtail spending.

    As someone who works in local government, I have never felt so much backlash against government as right now. I work mostly with homeless agencies and I work directly with the community. I really do often go against what would be best in my personal interests to do what is right for the greater good, and most of my fellow government workers really are the same way. What I see more of is that well-intended help that the bureaucrats really believes is for the greater public interest does more harm than good sometimes, but most people in government that I cross paths with at least believe that they are doing it for the greater public good. What is not seen anymore is that the good basic needs things that government provides that I think people take for granted. There is pros and cons to everything including government. The balance seems lost.

    I wonder how much influence James Buchanan had on the anti-government sentiment of today. I would think he was more about balance rather than extremism.

  7. Carlito Brigante says

    The Indiana Law Blog has some interesting material on Boots. Some real gems:

    Boots contends that states created the federal government and gave Congress a list of specific enumerated powers. He said any action taken by Congress is illegitimate if it’s not on that list, and the states, not the Supreme Court, have the authority to determine the legitimacy of federal laws.

    That argument for nullification has been made several times in U.S. history, most often by southern state lawmakers seeking to protect the institution of slavery prior to the Civil War and trying to prevent racial integration of public schools during the 20th century.

    U.S. courts have repeatedly struck down state attempts to nullify federal law.

    In the most significant ruling, Cooper v. Aaron (1958), the Supreme Court declared the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution makes nullification impossible, as federal law is always superior to state law.

    In that decision, the nation’s high court also instructed state lawmakers, like Boots, that refusing to accept the supremacy of federal law, and the authority of the Supreme Court to interpret it, is “war against the Constitution” and a violation of their oath to support America’s primary governing document.

    This is the caliber of cementheads that legislate for Indiana. His playpen must have been filled with Consitutional Party coloring books. And only two crayons, black and white.

  8. Stuart Swenson says

    And so we have at least two people who think along these lines yet who are writing the laws? Apparently, the idea is for them to get into the area in which people agree to be ruled by law long enough to write some laws which reflect a sort of delusion?

  9. Jack says

    When this type of topic comes up I think of Indiana being a “home rule” state, but watch each session of the general assembly void more and more of any local control. Then observe the distain that our general assembly members show toward a “higher government” dictating and reducing their ability to be incharge of things within the state. Seems like a disconnect.

    • Carlito Brigante says

      Well stated, Jack. In law school I took a course on state and local government. Even then, back in 1988, the state kept a heavy thumb on the local units of government.

  10. Stephen F Smith says

    These members of our Gen. Ass. are mad — and mad at the world. We often assume their constituents who put them there are, too. Boots is from my county, and I will say a lot of his vote does come from angry voters, but not all. Democrats seldom run anybody against him, and when they do, he/she gets few votes. .
    Montgomery Co. is heavily Republican and always has been because of the Civil War. Interesting that the biggest threat to the nation for which so many of our citizens/relatives fought now support the biggest threat to it — the Republican party.

  11. Joe says

    You are right to characterize these extremist whack jobs as anti-US. There’s a strain of the Republican party that have become more of an embarrassment than the party itself (though that’s hard to imagine) Kruse, Boots, Turner, Delph, Buck, Banks, Waterman, and on and on and on. It’s a true freak show…..but this brand of extremism has always been popular in Indiana. I remember back in the 1980’s, when Sen Gene Snowden of Huntington actually passed a bill that outlawed federal regionalism (the organization of the executive branch of government into regional units). This bill actually passed both houses and had to be vetoed by Gov Robert Orr. Let’s hope that Bosma and Long will be able to temper these extremists and their awful, anit-American legislation this session


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