The lawyers defending the occupiers of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge last January have come up with an interesting line of defense: the federal government has no power to control federal lands.
“The motion to dismiss in this case will challenge the Federal Government’s authority to assert ownership over the land that is now known as the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge,” Bundy’s defense attorneys wrote in a court filing Friday asking for more time to file a motion to dismiss the charges against him for lack of jurisdiction. It was first flagged by the Oregonian. “It is Defendant’s position that this authority is critical to the Federal Government’s authority to have federal employees work on that land. Jurisdiction in this case will determine whether the Federal Government can prosecute protesters for being there at all.”
In other words, it was never federal land in the first place.
“Once statehood occurred for Oregon, Congress lost the right to own the land inside the state,” the defense argued in the brief.
Bundy’s defense is expected to argue in court that Malheur was not federal land because it had been doled out to homesteaders and was “relinquished.” It is also expected to “provide evidence about foundational documents from the Federal Convention of 1787.”
Good luck with that one.