You can read Judge Graves full Summary Judgment opinion here (warning PDF). El Som posted the conclusion yesterday, but I found one particular argument that the “Sheriff” made in his legal brief, and one particular reaction from a supporter of the teabagging-Woody-Toy-Action-figure-come-to-life to be particularlly revealing.
From the opinion:
The Sheriff’s attempt to rely on other state courts’ interpretation of the phrase
“conservator of the peace” fails because it is not at all clear that the term “conservator of the peace” as used in the Delaware Constitution creates a right or recognizes a right to engage in law enforcement activities in the office of sheriff. Had the framers of the constitution chosen to limit who was a conservator of the peace to only the office of sheriff, the Sheriff would have been dealt a better hand of cards. But, the framers of all of our constitutions referenced many office holders in our government as being conservators of the peace. There is no authority to suggest or infer that the framers intended, at various times in the history of our state, that chancellors, judges, senators, representatives, the Attorney General, as well as county treasurers, secretaries, clerks of the court, registers, recorders, coroners and sheriffs would all be law enforcement officers with the authority to investigate and make arrests.
The designation of so many different offices as being a conservator of the peace leads the Court to the obvious conclusion that being labeled a “conservator of the peace” in our constitution means nothing more than the office holder is a constitutional officer involved in governance tasked with keeping the peace or the “normal state of society.”
Mr. Christopher, being a Tea Party conservative, supports the notion of State’s Rights, i.e. that each state is sovereign and entitled to fashion its own Constitution and laws and not be subservient to the federal government or other states. And there he is, in our courts, using other state’s laws to try to interpret our state Constitution more favorably to support his position. Of course, he had to go outside our state because no case law from our courts supported his position, but still. That just proves that Christopher is willing to do whatever it takes and use whatever argument he can to gain power. If Mr. Christopher wanted police powers and play cops and robbers he should have joined the State Police, or the police deparments of one of our cities and or towns.
In the News Journal article, one of Christopher’s supporters, Ken Currie, a Sussex retiree (aren’t they all?), was of course disappointed with the ruling.
“There’s something not quite right with being out of step with the other 49 states, much less a number of other sheriffs who have been prominent in leading the fight against federal intrusion,” he said.
Well, Ken, since you are Teabagger it is understood that you lack education, so let me inform you of the facts: Several other states do not have county sheriffs with police powers. Alaska and Connecticut do not have County Sheriffs at all. In Pennsylvania, New York and California, the duties of the County Sheriff vary from county to county, and in some counties, they serve just as they do in Delaware, as the enforcement arm of the Courts, serving subpoenaes and summons, serving other court papers and posting foreclosure and eviction notices. This is also true in Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont. The truth is each state has chosen to empower the office of Sheriff differently. That is their right as states. And who the hell are you, Mr. Currie, and you, Mr. Christopher, to try and change that in Delaware? As a State’s Righter, Mr. Currie, and Mr. Christopher, you should celebrate the fact that Delaware is different, instead of making up “facts” to lament that you don’t have your own Sheriff Arapaio.
And Mr. Currie, please familarize yourself with the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution found in Article VI, Clause 2:
This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
That means that Federal law trumps state law and county law and local law. Federal law is the supreme law of the land. We fought a Civil War and spent hundreds of thousands of American lives resolving this issue. Federal law is surpeme. State law is subservient to it if state law and federal law conflct. That is our system. If you do not like our American system of government you are free to leave. I am sure in some libertarian dystopian hellscape like Yemen or Somalia you will be left alone by the central / federal government.
Of course, while this opinion seems pretty solid, Christopher will of course appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court. That will be his last court to appeal to as the U.S. Supreme Court will not get involved in interpreting a state’s constitution for it. His supporters, on the other hand, including some own family members, seem intent to “cleansing” the Sussex County Republican Party of any dissenters, starting with Frank Knotts.