This West Is OUR West

It's Time to Abolish Law Enforcement Authority of Federal Public Land Agencies


By Mike Lee

As the primary election season in Utah heats up, a common fixture on the sides of Utah’s roads are the various signs from political campaigns. In each county you are likely to find several different signs from those running to serve as the county sheriff as they fight for name recognition. In addition to these signs, candidates will knock doors, hold meetings, and do what is necessary to earn the votes of their county. This kind of political accountability is a necessary ingredient for a law enforcement institution to earn and maintain the public trust it needs to do its job effectively.

For years, those who live in the West have had to endure a growing law enforcement presence within the public land agencies that manage vast swaths of land in Western states. This growth in a federal law enforcement presence has come at the expense of local law enforcement agencies, like county sheriffs, who have seen their authority diminished within their jurisdictions.

In addition to the loss of local control they facilitate, these federal law enforcement programs within public land agencies have become embarrassing examples of abusive power. These programs have become expensive to maintain. Worst of all, they have eroded public trust in federal land management agencies. As these programs are run by career bureaucrats, Americans have no recourse to remove bad actors from office.

As problematic as these law enforcement programs are on the surface, leaked memos and recent court proceedings have revealed that these law enforcement agencies operate from a culture of corruption that has led to heavy-handed and unnecessary enforcement tactics by agents who act as if they are above the law.

If it were necessary to have these law enforcement programs to ensure compliance with federal law, perhaps one could make the argument that they just need to be reformed. However, they serve no purpose that couldn’t already be fulfilled by local sheriff departments and the U.S. Marshals.

Accordingly, I believe Congress should abolish the law enforcement programs within agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service and empower local law enforcement to meet the law enforcement needs of communities with abundant federal land.

I will fight for this effort in Congress, but rural communities in the West will need to unite together if we are going to accomplish this.

Are you willing to join me in this fight? You can help by sharing this page with your friends that live in rural communities in the West and asking them to add their name to the list of rural westerners who are ready to fight for stronger local control in our communities:

Abolish Land Agency Law Enforcement Programs

Let me know if you agree that we should abolish federal land agency law enforcement programs and empower local officials - like the County Sheriff - to enforce the law on public land.

Mike Lee Biography

Elected in 2010 as Utah's 16th Senator, Mike Lee has spent his career defending the basic liberties of Americans and Utahns as a tireless advocate for our founding constitutional principles.

Senator Lee acquired a deep respect for the Constitution early on. His father, Rex Lee, who served as the Solicitor General under President Ronald Reagan, would often discuss varied aspects of judicial and constitutional doctrine around the kitchen table, from Due Process to the uses of Executive Plenary Power. He attended most of his father's arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, giving him a unique, hands-on experience and understanding of government up close.

Lee graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science, and served as BYU's Student Body President in his senior year. He graduated from BYU's Law School in 1997 and went on to serve as law clerk to Judge Dee Benson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, and then with future Supreme Court Justice Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Lee spent several years as an attorney with the law firm Sidley & Austin specializing in appellate and Supreme Court litigation, and then served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Salt Lake City arguing cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Lee served the state of Utah as Governor Jon Huntsman's General Counsel and was later honored to reunite with Justice Alito, now on the Supreme Court, for a one-year clerkship. He returned to private practice in 2007.

Throughout his career, Lee earned a reputation as an outstanding practitioner of the law based on his sound judgment, abilities in the courtroom, and thorough understanding of the Constitution.

Today, Lee fights to preserve America's proud founding document in the United States Senate. He advocates efforts to support constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility, individual liberty, and economic prosperity.

Lee is a member of the Judiciary Committee, and serves as Chairman of the Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights Subcommittee protecting business competition and personal freedom.

He also oversees issues critical to Utah as the Chairman of the Water and Power Subcommittee of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He serves on the Commerce Committee and the Joint Economic Committee, as well.

In the 114th Congress, Lee also began his tenure as Chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, where he works with his Republican colleagues in the Senate to introduce bold and innovative solutions to issues facing the American people.

Lee and his wife Sharon live in Alpine, Utah, with their three children. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served a two-year mission for the Church in the Texas Rio Grande Valley.