Ex-Judge Napolitano: Govt's Raid on Nevada Ranch 'Draconian'

Image: Ex-Judge Napolitano: Govt's Raid on Nevada Ranch 'Draconian' Supporters of rancher Cliven Bundy near the Bureau of Land Management's base camp where seized cattle that belonged to Bundy were being held on April 12.

Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 09:50 AM

By Wanda Carruthers

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The federal government used draconian methods in its raid involving Cliven Bundy in an attempt to scare the Nevada rancher in their dispute over grazing rights, said former Judge Andrew Napolitano.

"The draconian, authoritarian way that the government is going after Mr. Bundy is obviously to try and scare him, and scare ranchers, and send a message which is utterly un-American and not consistent with a free people," Napolitano, a former New Jersey Superior Court judge, told "Fox & Friends" on Tuesday.

Bundy clashed with officials of the Bureau of Land Management over grazing rights on federal land. Armed agents seized 400 head of the rancher's cattle after an April 9 standoff that resulted in injuries to Bundy's son and sister.

Napolitano said the proper procedure for resolving a dispute would be to file documents in the court system, not through the use of force by the government.

"When you owe the government money, they don't come with guns and troops. And they don't threaten the media that are there to cover it. You file a document in the courthouse, and it's a judgment on the property," Napolitano said.

Napolitano said he was "shocked" to see federal agents dressed like troops "in camouflage and with M-16s" adding that the BLM is not "a military or a law-enforcement entity."

During the standoff, BLM agents established a free speech zone for Bundy supporters several miles from the confrontation. Napolitano said that was a direct violation of their First Amendment's freedom of speech rights.

"The First Amendment presumes that you can say anything you want about the government. And if the government makes it impossible for the government to hear what you're saying by putting you three miles away, then the government has interfered with your First Amendment rights," he said.

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