California County Quietly Votes For Independence From State and Federal Laws … Mendocino County, in the pristine northern lands of California, where the magnificent ancient coastal Redwood trees meet the inland California Oaks, has voted itself into the constitution writing (righting) business. … By a significant margin, they became the first county in California, and only the second county in the country to pass into law a very powerful local ordinance that declares local self-governing rights in their communities over state and federal jurisdiction. Over 67% of the votes cast were in favor of the measure. – Activist Post
Dominant Social Theme: Fedgov knows best and don't you forget it.
Free-Market Analysis: This is an interesting development. Mendocino County's declaration of self-determination and self-governance fits in with the idea of the Internet Reformation we regularly mention.
We've predicted that access to the information widely available on the Internet would cause increased questioning about the evolution of sociopolitical and economic trends and enforcement actions throughout the West and in the US in particular.
Questions, in fact, that would lead to action as they have in Mendocino. The US is a special target because it is the world's most important country and economic fulcrum.
Additionally, the US has a written constitution, as vague as it sometimes is, that can be helpful in illustrating the stages of "legal" evolution that have brought the country to where it is today. Here's more:
The ordinance provides for waters free from toxic trespass; preemptively bans all fracking activities countywide with heavy fines and penalties for violation of the ordinance; and establishes a Community Bill of Rights to, for, and by the residents of Mendocino County while checking corporate powers as well.
In addition, the newly created law gives the Rights of Nature to exist and flourish without toxic trespass whereas previously Nature had no standing in the court of law …
Right to community self-government.
All residents of Mendocino County possess the right to a form of governance where they live which recognizes that all power is inherent in the people and all free governments are founded on the people's consent.
Use of Mendocino County government by the sovereign people to make law and policy shall not be deemed by any authority to eliminate or reduce that self-governing authority. Rights as self-executing, fundamental and unalienable.
All rights delineated and secured by this ordinance are inherent, fundamental and unalienable; and shall be self-executing and enforceable against both private and public actors."
Of course, the hurdle that will have to be overcome from a judicial standpoint is whether municipalities, counties and states can assert their primacy over Fedgov. There are other controversial aspects to the Mendocino assertion.
The article quotes the Declaration of Independence to buttress the County's legal position: "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government."
Of course, it should be pointed out that the Declaration of Independence never was the "law of the land" that the Constitution is. But the county is obviously reaching for precedents. In order to further assert the legality of this new state of affairs, the California state Constitution is quoted at length, as follows:
Article 1 of the California State Constitution of 1849:
Sec. 1. All men are by nature free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property: and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.
Sec. 2. All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good may require it.
The ambitious article and the legislation inspiring it aim to fire a rhetorical "shot heard round the world" that will galvanize others into action. "Across the nation a truly grass-roots movement of taken back power by, and for the people at the local levels has begun in earnest," the article relates.
The article even explores enforcement of new statutes and their legal status. Over the past few years "a national organization called the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) was formed to protect the people and their constitutional rights in the communities they serve over state and federal jurisdictions."
This is the group in part that is behind the Mendocino movement. And to further illustrate why it's necessary, the article relates an episode of law enforcement that reads more like an attack on citizens' rights than an anti-criminal operation.
Mendocino County is known for growing medical marijuana and is legal by state and local laws. Most growers pay per plant taxes to county and state for the right to grow weed that helps and heals. This summer, local growers were stunned to see several private, for-hire para military Blackwater type operations swoop down on ropes from helicopters, in full military regalia with guns drawn and no ID badges.
They were apparently employees of Lear Asset Management Services and harvested (read stole) people's crops to presumably sell for profit. Sheriff Allman was at a loss to as to who was doing it and why. To date no arrests have been made and no further disclosure as to who was behind the taking of people's crops. As Time magazine reported about this action:
They are hired by large land owners to do the work of clearing trespass gardens from private property, and perform forest reclamation, sometimes funded by government grant. Deep in the woods, they cut down illegal pot plants and scrub the environmental footprint produced by the backwoods drug trade. They carry AR-15 rifles, lest they meet armed watchmen bent on defending their plots.
Mendocino citizens are justifiably angry at this aggression against apparently peaceable cannabis cultivators. In part, it would seem, Mendocino ordinances are written with an eye toward increased tolerance for this group and these activities.
Another part of the ordinances feature the "Rights of Nature to exist and flourish." Like so many other ideas these days, the Rights of Nature may sound like an outlier concept but it has already been put into practice.
In 2008, the nation of Ecuador "became the first nation in the world to legally recognize the Rights of Nature as well as language to provide for the long term protection and security of natural resources over all other interests."
Are the Mendocino County actions significant in the larger scheme of things? We've already indicated that they seem to be a continuation of a larger trend that includes a gradual awakening regarding constant, incremental reductions in liberty.
Our biggest issue as a libertarian-oriented publication is the emphasis placed on law. We would argue that allowing the Invisible Hand of completion to operate is a better way to structure society than to create yet another constitution, no matter how simple or noble sounding.
Written constitutions notoriously are subject to loopholes and fuzzy language that allow even the simplest statements to be subject to deliberate misinterpretation leading to the very abuses that they are set up to ameliorate. In the case of the Mendocino construct, creating a whole new area of enforceable rights (the Rights of Nature) is just one example.
But the Mendocino statutes do reinforce our perspective regarding citizens' growing discontent and willingness, finally, to take some sort of action. We'll continue to argue that those who are the most effective at protecting themselves from the growing authoritarianism of regulatory democracy are those willing to take individual human action when it comes to protecting their families and guaranteeing their assets.
Mandating yet another series of constitutional protections may not be the same as actually obtaining those rights. Those who may be the most successful at navigating upcoming difficulties are those who concentrate, at least to begin with, on personal rather than group activism and learn to "live free in an unfree world."