GUEST opinion

Opinion
Sep 24, 2010
by WLJ

Recent ruling exhibits trend in valuing "public good" over inidividual liberties

When U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ruled in favor of two eco-extremist groups’ attempts to gain private information regarding federal grazing permits, she put at great risk the rural backbone of the West and the families that hold it together. On Sept. 13, Western Watersheds Project (WWP) and WildEarth Guardians gained the judge’s approval in their effort to obtain personal information, including names, addresses, phone numbers, and financial data of individuals who hold permits to graze livestock on federal lands.

Not only should this cause great alarm for all ranchers and individuals who conduct business with the federal government, but also for all citizens. When a court of law determines that an individual’s private demographic and financial information is outweighed by the public’s interest, alarm bells should ring for all who hold dear the values of American freedom. This ruling follows a current, disturbing political trend within the federal government in degrading individual liberties in the name of the public good.

We can only assume that the reason the environmental extremists are so anxious to get this personal information is so that they can pursue with ease their agenda of harassment against ranching families. The groups who brought this litigation have a long and proven record of pursuing a path of intimidation and threats against those who do not share their beliefs. Over the last 15-plus years, WWP has made it their sole mission to rid the public lands of livestock and the ranchers that own them, thus, seriously undercutting the multiple use concepts on which the public lands are based and ignoring sound rangeland management principles. They do this by pursuing their “ambitious litigation strategy” while achieving no real on-the-ground conservation.

For its part, the Idaho Cattle Association will do what it can to seek for an appeal of this ruling and protect Idaho ranching families from undue harassment, and Idaho citizens from the invasion of personal privacy. — Idaho Cattle Association

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