Enforcing the law | Letter

Regarding Mr. Roegner’s piece “Are Sheriffs above the law?” (bothell-reporter.com, April 9), that article contained a particularly disturbing piece of doublespeak:

“Recently 13 elected county sheriffs said they will ignore…I-1639 because they didn’t think it was constitutional, which places them at odds with their sworn oath to uphold the law and the Constitution.”

I do not know if Mr. Roegner read this sentence before publishing, but it is absurd at face value. If a sheriff believes a law is unconstitutional, then the very essence of upholding an oath to protect the Constitution is to refuse to enforce such a law.

He later claims that law enforcement do not have discretion over which laws to enforce. This is false, strictly speaking from a legal perspective. Court rulings such as Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales establish that police are not obligated to enforce any law. And there is a long American tradition of law enforcement refusing to enforce unjust and harmful laws such as imprisoning non-violent drug offenders, immigration (sanctuary cities), going clear back to refusal to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. The common thread? A respect for the liberties of peaceful individuals in the face of a government being driven by special interests seeking oppression.

Mr. Roegner should be grateful to know there are local law enforcement officials willing to stand up for the rights of citizens in their communities, because when state or federal government turns bad, they are the last line of defense to protect Americans from tyranny short of citizens themselves rising up. The Second Amendment was written in recognition of this reality that the writers had just lived through.

David Johnson


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