Just watched Paul Babeu, the sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona, get his ass handed to him by Al Sharpton on MSNBC. Babeu sent President Obama a letter informing him that he would defy any executive orders on gun control he deemed to be unconstitutional. Credit for him actually daring to appear on MSNBC as opposed to the usual friendly confines of Fox, but Sharpton dissected him thoroughly: Babeu couldn't name a single executive order Obama has issued or is considering issuing that he would defy (nor could he even name one of the orders, period), started yawping about immigration and "Fast and Furious" when pressed, and ended up just circling the drain. Another day, another teabagging idiot gets pwned in the real world. (Maybe not entirely -- though he is a far-right Republican who has a bee up his ass about immigration, Babeu seems quite competent in other areas.)
But that's not the point I'm making. Babeu seems to be pushing the idea that he has the ultimate power of enforcement AND interpretation in his county, because he is the elected sheriff. That is a core tenet of the "Sovereignty" paradigm.
The Montana Freemen were perhaps the best known of the gun-frenzied, white-nationalist right-wingers who espoused the tenets of that belief system. The SPLC has tons of material on the subject. You might remember J.T. Ready as one of the movement's recent headline-grabbers. Wikipedia gives a decent rundown on the subject, though it doesn't focus as strongly on the racist and violent underpinnings of the movement as it might. You might also recognize the same drivel from the Posse Comitatus crowd.
I won't bother going through the tenets of the movement; they differ depending on who you talk to, and they are often muddied, contradictory, and patently illegitimate. If you want to read longwinded diatribes about the yellow fringe on the flag and admiralty law, for example, you can. I've read some of it, and it drives me to the ibuprofen bottle.
I don't know whether Babeu is an adherent of the sovereignty movement or not. He's made some interesting headlines in his apparent embrace of white supremacism. Where white supremacy goes, sovereignty often follows. A quick Google search finds nothing specific.
But to assert the authority of the local sheriff as trumping state and federal laws and edicts is at the heart of the sovereign citizen philosophy.
I don't have the answers for Babeu's position. It's quite possible he has committed career suicide, though what would get him bounced from office like a superball in most states might actually help him in Arizona. He sure sounds like he's climbed on the sovereignty crazy train, but I can't say for sure. It's a subject worth pursuing, especially by Arizonans who know far more about the situation than I do. For me, the question is clear: if you're the sheriff and you don't think you can uphold the law or lawfully issued directives, you resign. If not, you shut up and do it. But Babeu sees things differently, and so do the sovereignists.
5:54 PM PT: Recommended? Thank you! Now let's turn up the heat on Little Lord Babeu.