...There are roughly three thousand sheriffs in America, in forty-seven states. Arpaio and Peyman are among the dozens aligned with the “constitutional sheriffs” movement. Another is David A. Clarke, Jr., the cowboy-hatted Wisconsin firebrand who considered joining the Department of Homeland Security. (He now works at America First Action, a pro-Trump political-action committee.) There are even more followers of constitutional policing across America among law enforcement’s rank and file. One group, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, or C.S.P.O.A., claims about five thousand members. C.S.P.O.A. members believe that the sheriff has the final say on a law’s constitutionality in his county. Every law-enforcement officer has some leeway in choosing which laws to enforce, which is why it’s rare to get a ticket for jaywalking, for example. But, under this philosophy, the supremacy clause of the Constitution, which dictates that federal law takes precedence over state law, is irrelevant. So is the Supreme Court. “They get up every morning and put their clothes on the same way you and I do,” Finch told me. “Why do those nine people get to decide what the rest of the country’s going to be like?” To the most dogmatic, there’s only one way to interpret the country’s founding documents: pro-gun, anti-immigrant, anti-regulation, anti-Washington.
...The idea of a constitutional sheriff emerged in the nineteen-seventies, in California. It was first proposed by William Potter Gale, who had been an aide to General Douglas MacArthur. According to Daniel Levitas’s book, “The Terrorist Next Door,” Gale embraced a belief system called Christian Identity, and, as a self-styled minister, preached that the Constitution was a divinely inspired document intended to elevate whites above Jews and racial minorities. From his Ministry of Christ Church, outside Yosemite National Park, where he sermonized in front of a giant Confederate flag, Gale produced a newsletter, “IDENTITY,” its name reflecting his ideology and his fondness for unnecessary capitalization. In 1971, he mailed Vol. 6, No. 1, to his flock. Its featured story, written by Gale, appeared under the byline of Colonel Ben Cameron, a character in the film “The Birth of a Nation” who helps found the Ku Klux Klan. Gale railed against civil-rights laws, the income tax, the United Nations, and the showering of tax dollars on foreign allies.
...As the decade wore on, the militia movement lost momentum, and Mack’s speaking gigs dried up. He worked as the public-relations director of Gun Owners of America, the N.R.A.’s more strident cousin. He also sold cars, ran for the U.S. Senate as a Libertarian, and was a contestant on the sole season of the Showtime reality series “American Candidate.” Disgruntlement with the Presidency of Barack Obama, and the dismal economy of the late aughts, helped revive anti-government fervor, and, along with it, Mack’s influence. In 2009, he self-published “The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope,” a fifty-page manifesto with a sheriff’s star on the front and an endorsement from Arpaio on the back. “There is a man who can stop the abuse, end the tyranny, and restore the Constitution, once again, as the supreme law of the land,” he writes. “Yes, it is you SHERIFF!” Mack said that he sold a hundred thousand copies of the book.
...For the constitutional-sheriffs movement, however, Finch’s defeat didn’t matter. The C.S.P.O.A. named him Sheriff of the Year in 2014, and Mack mentioned the trial in his book “Are You a David?” (The government is Goliath.) The movement’s ideas have now spread far beyond a few renegade sheriffs. In Nevada, for example, members of the Bundy family have emerged as leaders of a movement to wrest control of public lands from Washington. During an armed standoff on the ranch of the family patriarch, Cliven Bundy, which drew anti-government crowds from around the country, including several constitutional sheriffs, Bundy demanded that his local sheriff disarm federal authorities. The sheriff refused. Earlier this year, after charges against Bundy related to the standoff were dismissed, Bundy said to a TV reporter, “I think we’re going to protest the county sheriff: ‘Why didn’t you do your job?’ ”
For a more learned and balanced approach to the office of sheriff see The Posse Comitatus And The Office of Sheriff. I have embedded the journal article below or you can download it from the link highlighted above.