BY ALEX NEWMAN June 13, 2021 Updated: June 14, 2021


Elected commissioners in Nevada’s Elko county declared that the Bill of Rights will be upheld in their jurisdictions, even if it means standing against unconstitutional acts by state and federal authorities. According to a resolution approved in the County on June 2, abuse of the constitutionally protected rights of citizens in Elko county will be “dealt with as criminal activity.” Under the leadership of constitutionally minded sheriffs and elected commissioners, the rural county decided to become a “constitutional county” where the rights of citizens will be protected from all attacks. That means local authorities intend to uphold the entire Bill of Rights in their jurisdiction, and that even federal and state officials must comply with the U.S. Constitution there, they said. As part of the effort to become a constitutional county, the county government became the first in the nation to officially join the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA).

The national organization, made up of sheriffs and other law-enforcement officials dedicated to upholding their oaths of office to the U.S. Constitution and their state constitutions, has been training sheriffs about their constitutional role for years. Countless lawmen from across America are individual members. But before 2021, no county government had ever requested to join as a county, and CSPOA did not even have that available as a membership option.

Now Elko county has joined.

Sheriff Mack Speaks

“The people of these counties and their elected officials have had it up to here with unconstitutional dictates and mandates,” retired Sheriff Richard Mack, the founder and chief of CSPOA, told The Epoch Times in an interview. Under the measure, county officials, including the sheriff and deputies, are strictly bound by their oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and protect the rights of constituents—even if that means defying what they view as unconstitutional orders, mandates, decrees, or statues from state or federal authorities. The rural county overwhelmingly approved the decision to become an official member of CSPOA and it warned officials from every level of government to abide by the oath of office. “The leadership of Elko County is an example to all Nevada and the entire country that tyranny will no longer be acceptable,” Sheriff Mack said, adding that elected officials in this county understand they have a duty to protect the liberties of their people against anyone who may seek to undermine them.

In comments to The Epoch Times, Mack said that having local elected officials tell federal and state authorities that the Bill of Rights will be upheld in their jurisdictions helps protect the God-given freedoms that each citizen was born with. “This is the peaceful and effective solution millions of Americans have been praying for to take back America county by county and state by state,” he continued. “These public officials are actually doing something that has been lost in political correctness for a very long time; they are courageously keeping their oaths of office to uphold, defend, and preserve the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Nevada,” added Mack, who famously sued the Clinton administration while serving as sheriff and won at the U.S. Supreme Court. “God bless Elko County!” he added.

For years, Sheriff Mack has traveled the nation educating sheriffs and communities on what he says is their duty to protect the constitutionally guaranteed liberties of their constituents from efforts to undermine them—even from federal and state governments. In his landmark 1997 lawsuit against federal gun-control programs, the Supreme Court delivered a major win for proponents of the U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment, which reserves all powers not delegated to the U.S. government for the states or the people. Constitutional scholars have argued that the case was among the most important Supreme Court rulings protecting states’ rights. Under what has come to be known as the Constitution’s “anti-commandeering doctrine,” the high court’s opinion in Printz v. United States also reiterated that sheriffs are not bound to help enforce federal statutes or regulations.

The Elko County Resolution

The resolution adopted by Elko county included language indicating that county officials will protect the rights of all citizens in the jurisdiction, even if it means going against federal or state authorities. “The people of these United States are, and have a right to be, free and independent, and these rights are derived from the ‘Law of Nature and nature’s God,’” explains the resolution, echoing the language of America’s founders in the Declaration of Independence. “As such, they must be free from infringements on the right to keep and bear arms, unreasonable searches and seizures, capricious detainments and every other natural right whether enumerated or not, pursuant to the 9th Amendment,” the resolution continues. The document, approved unanimously by Elko’s County Commission, also reaffirms the U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment protecting states from federal usurpation of unauthorized powers.

Next, the resolution notes that no federal agency can create policies that supersede the Constitution and that the executive branch of government is not authorized to make law under America’s system of government. The document then goes on to list a variety of “abuses” that “will not be tolerated.” At the top of the list are orders infringing on the rights to freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and other liberties guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Other acts that will not be tolerated include efforts to register firearms, gun confiscation, violations of privacy or property rights without a warrant, detainment or arrest without following constitutional procedures, and more.

Commissioner Behind the Effort Speaks Out

Speaking to The Epoch Times, Elko County Commissioner Rex Steninger, who proposed the resolution, called on counties across America to take similar actions in defense of the Constitution. “We need a majority of counties in all the freedom-loving states to join,” Steninger said after his resolution passed unanimously last week. Right now, “the Swamp controls our federal government” and “our nation is in decline.”

Citing Sheriff Mack, the Elko County commissioner argued that “the only way to take our country back” is to do it “county by county, sheriff by sheriff.” “My advice to other Americans is that they had better wake up and fight back or we will lose our wonderful country,” he continued. “We are slipping quickly from the Republic of our founding into a dictatorship.” Becoming a “constitutional county” and joining the CSPOA is one way local authorities can resist the escalating abuses, he said. “I feel joining the CSPOA was needed to signal to our leaders up the ladder that we are tired of their unconstitutional orders and we are not going to obediently follow them anymore,” he continued.

According to Steninger, the public has been “overwhelmingly supportive” of the county’s move. In fact, at a meeting last week, the commissioners voted to set up a fund so citizens could voluntarily pay for a patriotic celebration of the effort on June 20. They quickly collected more than what was needed. “That tells me the citizens of Elko County are eager for some resistance,” he said.

In the end, Steninger and other local officials argued that the Constitution must be protected, starting at the local level. “The Constitution is the framework of our Republic,” he said. “It is what enabled us to rise from a fledgling collection of immigrants into the most powerful nation on Earth in just 150 years–a historical blink of the eye.” “It was the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution that allowed our citizens to flourish and excel,” the commissioner added. Every elected official swears an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and his or her state.

But the pandemic “has really illustrated how far we have fallen,” Steninger said in public a speech supporting the initiative, pointing to government attacks against even the most basic freedoms. The First Amendment, for instance, guarantees the right to freely exercise one’s religion and peacefully assemble—among the most fundamental rights protected in the Constitution. “Yet governors across the nation told us we could not leave our houses or gather with our friends,” Steninger continued. “They told us to close our churches and avoid celebrations for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And most of us obeyed.”

The Fifth Amendment, meanwhile, “says we shall not be deprived of our property without the due process of law,” he went on. “But the governors ordered us to close our businesses and most obeyed.” “We should not have obeyed,” said the commissioner, who is reaching out to other elected officials across the state and encouraging them to follow Elko County’s lead. “We should have revolted.” “Adopting this resolution and joining the CSPOA is a first step in reclaiming our Republic and the God-given rights guaranteed by our Constitution,” concluded Steninger.

Just the Beginning?

Sheriffs from across Nevada were at the rally held in Lander County in mid-May in support of becoming constitutional counties. As the word spreads and citizens across America get involved, Sheriff Mack told The Epoch Times that Elko is likely just the beginning. CSPOA Operations Manager Sam Bushman, who worked closely with the county officials on the effort, emphasized in comments to The Epoch Times that this is “a citizens push and partnership with all public officials.” “It’s important to remember that without the people, these efforts would be for naught,” he added. “This is a peaceful stand for the rule of law,” he said. “It’s accountability for all—including and especially those who work for the people and take an oath.” Bushman said he was already working with other elected officials on the issue.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office did not respond to requests for comment by press time.