Beaton column: Does Pitkin sheriff think he’s Bull Connor?
Here in Aspen, the Democrat-ish (he says he’s registered as an Independent) sheriff for the county recently announced that he doesn’t like a set of federal laws duly enacted over the course of decades by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in Congress and signed by both Democrat and Republican presidents.
Therefore, he boasts, he won’t cooperate with the enforcement of those laws.
The laws at issue, of course, are the immigration laws.
Our local sheriff is not the first political opportunist to defy the nation’s laws while entrusted with enforcing them. Back in the 1960s, there was another Democrat law enforcement official who refused to enforce federal law. The laws at issue then were the new civil rights laws, and the Democrat at issue was the commissioner of public safety for Birmingham, Alabama.
His name was Theophilus Eugene Connor, better known as “Bull Connor.” He’s now buried in Birmingham, but still lives in infamy.
The local leftists who run Aspen will dispute this comparison because, they will say, Bull Connor was wrong and our sheriff is right. I agree that Bull Connor was wrong.
But recognize that Bull Connor himself thought he was right, just as our sheriff thinks he’s right. Moreover, the Birmingham establishment in the 1960s thought Bull Connor was right and celebrated him for his supposed “courage,” just as the Aspen establishment now thinks our sheriff is right and celebrates him for his similar “courage.” (As if it’s courageous to take a conventional Democrat stance in a place like Aspen that votes 70 percent Democrat).
I’m not here to debate whether our sheriff is right or wrong in his assessment of the immigration laws. (For the record, however, he’s not exactly a constitutional scholar. Also for the record, I personally favor more immigration — but of the legal kind.)
No, immigration is not today’s issue. The issue is whether a local sheriff is free to disregard national laws with which he personally disagrees.
If so, then where do you draw the line? Is the line to be drawn, or not, on an ad hoc basis by the local establishment, as in Birmingham? If so, then we’re abandoning our democratic republic and substituting mob rule.
The left wants exactly that. They favor the rule of law only when they win elections and get to be the ones making those laws. When they lose, they prefer mob rule, which they grandiloquently re-brand as “the resistance.”
Like every moralizing mob, the left justifies its power grab on the grounds that they’re morally superior. But it’s not morality itself that they love, mind you. That would be too much work. What they love is their melodramatic show of it in their illegitimate assertion of power — so long as someone else pays the price for their passion and power.
Here, that price could be high. Imagine a scenario where a person illegally in Aspen is not deported, and then commits a violent crime. That has already happened elsewhere.
To leftist politicians, I suppose that’s an acceptable price for their moral-preening-for-power game because they personally don’t pay it. It’s instead paid by ordinary Americans. And we know what the left thinks of ordinary Americans.
But there’s another potential price which they perhaps should take more seriously, one that they personally might have to pay.
Under Colorado law, and the laws of most other states, government officials enjoy sovereign immunity. That means they can’t be sued civilly or prosecuted criminally for their acts and omissions committed in their performance of their official duties.
This immunity is not absolute, however. It is “qualified.” The qualification is that they lose immunity if their acts and omissions are “willful and wanton.”
What could be more “willful and wanton” than a law enforcement officer bragging in advance of a tragic crime that he won’t enforce the law that would have prevented it?
So see you in court. If the presiding judge is a Trump appointee, you’re likely to get a speedy trial.
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