The Constitution and the armed protest in Malheur

The armed protesters claim the Constitution is on their side. Is it?

An American flag is shown at the front entrance to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, near Burns, Ore. Law enforcement took no action Monday against the group numbering close to two dozen who were upset about the imprisonment of father-and-son ranchers who set fire to federal land.(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — All throughout the armed protest at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the protesters have said what happened to Steven and Dwight Hammond is a violation of the Constitution. But is it?

KOIN 6 News spoke with Tung Yin, a Professor of Law at Lewis & Clark College to see if the federal government is in fact violating the Constitution in this case.

One of the claims made by LaVoy Finicum, one of the people occupying the federal building, is that the federal government owns one-third of the United States, and as a result can twist the law to their own advantage in these cases.

 The US Constitution 

Yin says the federal government is not violating the Constitution with the enforcement of laws surrounding US land and the protesters wouldn’t have a claim.

“Probably not unless you rise to some level and say hey, you discriminated against me because of my race or some other category like that.”

The militiamen also cite the 5th Amendment, which deals with double jeopardy. The protesters believe what happened to the Hammonds violates the 5th Amendment because after serving time for an arson charge, they were sent back to prison to serve a longer sentence, as ordered by a judge.

Yin weighs in.

“The government cannot appeal an acquittal that would be a double jeopardy violation. But they are able to appeal the sentence by saying, hey, the district judge got it wrong. Which the appellate court agreed. The appellate court said no — you need at least a five year minimum because that’s what the statute said.”

When asked if the protesters have any part of the Constitution on their side, he said “not really.”

Hammond’s supporters and lawyers really have two options. They can appeal to the US Supreme Court or be pardoned by President Obama.

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