There’s a fine line between a folk hero and a scofflaw
Although Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy has only recently burst into the daily news cycle, it’s important to note that his battle with the Bureau of Land Management is more than a decade old.
In 1993, Bundy’s 20-year grazing permit expired and the BLM sought to reduce the size allowed for his herd and restrict where his cattle could graze to comply with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 1990 decision to list the desert tortoise as an “threatened” species. Bundy rejected the permit and stopped paying fees. However, he continued to graze his cattle on federal land.
Five years later, U.S. District Court of Nevada issued an order to stop Bundy from grazing cattle on federal land, and in 2009, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s ruling.
In 2011, the BLM sent Bundy a notice of intent to gather his cattle, but suspended the operation indefinitely in April 2012 because of safety concerns for people involved with the roundup.
In October of last year, the Nevada District Court reaffirmed that Bundy has no legal right to graze the federal land and ordered him to remove his cattle within 45 days.
Earlier this month, the BLM started rounding up Bundy’s cattle but released them when protesters blocked the highway.
For more than two decades Bundy has violated federal law and ignored repeated court rulings. So why do so many people consider him a hero?