U.S. v. Bundy

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Background

The U.S. v Bundy case was heard in the Unites States District Court for the District of Nevada in November of 1998 as a result of a complaint filed in March by the Unites Sates again Clive Bundy, claiming that Bundy was grazing his livestock illegally on property own by the Bureau of Land Management. Bundy and his family had been grazing their cattle on this land since 1973, but in 1993 Bundy refused to update his permit and pay the fines required by the BLM to continue using public land for grazing.
After years of disagreement between the BLM and Bundy, the U.S. filed a Motion for a Summary Judgement and asked that Bundy pay for the damages caused. Bundy responded by filing a Motion to Dismiss on the grounds that he was not a citizen of the Unites Sates, only of the state of Nevada, so he was not required to respect the laws of the federal government.

Clive Bundy

Outcome

The case of the U.S. cited the Taylor Grazing Act, the Public Lands Council v Babbitt case, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act to prove that the court itself did have jurisdiction to rule on the issue of federal lands and to support the U.S. government’s claim that Bundy had trespassed and caused damage to public lands worthy of significant fines.     This is the major result of this case: an official rule that states that the BLM and the U.S. government do have the authority to govern public lands, even those within states, to prevent citizens from using these lands in ways they do not see fit, and fine or prohibit use of these lands to anyone who does not respect the authority of the BLM.

So…?

Who owns the West? Still not the states.

Who has the right to use it? Anyone that the U.S. government or the Bureau of Land Management gives permits to, as long as these permits and the land use laws are respected.

Case Summary

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