Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul became the first 2016 GOP presidential contender to take a stand on the land battle between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government, The Hill
The libertarian-leaning Paul is siding with Bundy, though he said the matter should be settled in court.
On April 14, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, weighed in on the issue. "It's not over," he told News4
in Reno. "We can't have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it's not over."
The next day, in a radio interview with WHAS in Louisville, Paul said, "I think there's an opposite thing to what Harry Reid said, and that's the federal government shouldn't violate the law, nor should we have 48 federal agencies carrying weapons and having SWAT teams," according to The Hill.
The dispute involves land Bundy says his family homesteaded since 1877 and that the federal government says belongs to the United States. As part of a conservation effort to protect the endangered desert tortoise, the Bureau of Land Management announced in 1989 that the land could no longer be used for cattle grazing. Bundy continued to graze his cattle and refused to pay fines calling the federal policy a land grab, The Washington Post
Paul argued that the land should be controlled by Nevada and local authorities, not by the federal government. He said the Bundy family had leased the land from the county and that federal officials should return it to local control, according to The Hill.
Over the weekend, Bureau of Land Management personnel withdrew from a confrontation with Bundy and his militia supporters, the Arizona Republic
"Can everybody decide what the law is on their own? No, there has to be a legal process," Paul said. "But I think there is definitely a philosophic debate over who should own the land. I hope it'll go through a court. But if it were in a court, I would be siding and wanting to say that look, the states and the individuals in the state should own these lands," according to The Hill.
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