Sheriffs aren’t in role to decide how to apply Constitution to law enforcement

Posted 18 February 2019 at 2:17 pm


First, I am not at all sure what the author of the “Constitutional Sheriff” letter was talking about. But, though one of my grandfathers was, I am not a lawyer.

Judy Larkin’s letter detailing the virtues of a “Constitutional Sheriff” was, to me, something out of left field, to borrow a baseball reference. I remain puzzled as to what constitutes a “Constitutional Sheriff” in Ms. Larkin’s thinking.

As I understand it, the Constitution provides a large part of the basis for statute law. Consider, for example, the rationale for laws limiting freedom of speech, defining what constitutes a lawful search, or defining the possible limits of a person’s Ninth Amendment rights.

Of course, the courts—and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court—determine whether, or not, practices and laws are consistent with the Constitution.

The notions that a sheriff can “nullify” actions he considers un-Constitutional and “interpose” him/herself between an oppressed citizenry and legally constituted state and federal law enforcement agencies is novel at best. Perhaps it is pure coincidence, but all this talk of interposition and nullification sounds reminiscent of John C. Calhoun.

It may well be that I missed a great deal, but I never got the impression that sheriffs get to decide what the Constitution means or how it should be applied. They rely on statute, precedent, and the judiciary to guide them and generally do not presume to interfere with enforcement of the law by the State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Sincerely yours,

Gary Kent