Source: Center for Biological Diversity
“The judge was being kind to call these claims delusional…”
LAS VEGAS— Calling his legal claims “delusional,” a Nevada state court judge has dismissed rancher Cliven Bundy’s lawsuit to seize more than 58 million acres of federal lands and have them turned over to the state.
In a ruling made public today, Judge Jim Crockett of the 8th Judicial District Court in Las Vegas said Bundy has tried and failed three times over the past two decades to make the same claims. The court’s ruling came in response to a motion from the Center for Biological Diversity and found against all of Bundy’s claims in the case.
“The judge was being kind to call these claims delusional,” said Kierán Suckling, the Center’s executive director. “Bundy’s ridiculous legal theories have wasted the court’s time and taxpayer money. Hopefully this unequivocal ruling will encourage Bundy to finally pay his grazing fees and bring this nonsense to a close. I’m not holding my breath, though.”
Bundy and his sympathizers believe the federal government lacks constitutional authority to own and manage federal public lands. His claims have been rejected by numerous federal courts, including rulings issued in response to filings by Bundy himself.
In the latest ruling, the judge said Bundy was wrong again.
“It is simply delusional to maintain that all public land within the boundaries of Nevada belongs to the State of Nevada,” Crockett wrote. “Because this issue has been raised and lost by Bundy in previous litigation, issue preclusion acts as a complete bar to Bundy’s first and third causes of action.”
Federal courts ruled in 1998 and in 2013 that Bundy or the Bureau of Land Management must round up hundreds of livestock illegally roaming 750,000 acres near the Nevada-Arizona line. In 2016 a federal magistrate again rejected Bundy’s claim when he sought to have the federal indictment against him dismissed. This is why Judge Crockett concluded: “It is painfully obvious that the claims asserted by Bundy in the instant matter rest upon a fundamentally flawed notion advanced by Bundy since 1998 regarding ownership of federal public lands in Nevada. For two decades, Bundy has made the same claims that federal public lands within Nevada belong not to the United States, but instead to the State of Nevada. Three federal court decisions ― Bundy I, Bundy II, and Bundy Ill ― have now considered and rejected Bundy’s repeated arguments.”
Much of the land Bundy illegally grazes on is now protected as Gold Butte National Monument. Bundy owes more than $1 million in grazing fees and penalties, according to federal officials.
Bundy’s decades of illegal livestock grazing led to a dangerous standoff in 2014. When federal authorities attempted to remove his cows, Bundy and his sons organized armed militia members and intimidated the government into halting the operation. In January 2018 a federal judge dismissed all charges against Bundy and his sons related to the Bunkerville standoff.