If you’re speeding on a county road in Utah, does a Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management ranger have the legal right to stop and give you a ticket? The state of Utah says no, and it just passed a law formalizing its position. But don’t get excited, it’s not your back that Utah’s covering; the legislation is just one more skirmish on the never-ending western battle over “state’s rights,” which is just another term for Utah putting itself ahead of the country.
The feds, of course, disagree with Utah, and a judge agreed with them. On Monday, Judge David Nuffer in Salt Lake City blocked the law, which was specifically written to prevent BLM and Forest Service personnel from upholding state laws. If you were a lawmaker, you’d think you’d want any available ranger or cop to uphold your rules, especially in the remote rural hinterlands where fuzz are few and far between. But no.
“That is an overstepping of their authority,” said state Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, who sponsored the new law. “If we can’t stop this, how do we stop them from encroaching on any area of states’ rights and matters of federalism?”
You’re right, Mike. Next thing you know, the feds might want to prevent drilling in national parks and driving your ATV in wilderness. Oh, wait.