Idaho’s Ammon Bundy arrest shows our system of justice works

OPINION AND COMMENTARY

Editorials and other Opinion content offer perspectives on issues important to our community and are independent from the work of our newsroom reporters.

The arrest of far-right activist Ammon Bundy on a months-old warrant shows that no one is above the law and that our justice system can work.

Bundy was arrested Friday night at a high school football fundraiser on an outstanding warrant in Ada County for contempt of court.

Kudos to the Gem County Sheriff’s Office for handling this long standoff with patience and tact.

The quagmire has been going on since April, when a 4th District Court judge issued the warrant in St. Luke’s defamation lawsuit against Bundy, who refused to “participate” in the proceedings against him and was determined to have violated court orders.

It’s fitting that Bundy was arrested on a contempt charge, because that’s all he’s shown the legal system in our state and country.

In his absence, a judge entered a default judgment against him, and a jury subsequently awarded $52.5 million to St. Luke’s in damages and penalties in its case against Bundy and cohort Diego Rodriguez.

Since the warrant was issued in April, Bundy mostly holed up at his home in Emmett, surrounded by his People’s Rights Network followers.

Some of us worried that the situation could have turned into another Ruby Ridge, a North Idaho standoff that turned deadly some 30 years ago.

But the Gem County Sheriff’s Office in the Bundy situation waited it out until deputies had a good opportunity to make an arrest and avoid violence.

Bundy’s arrest makes us think of other prominent cases making their way through the justice system right now. Namely, the cases against former President Donald Trump and the case against Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden.

Like Bundy, Trump has routinely called into question the legitimacy of the court system and demeaned judges. Trump has also called into question other foundational institutions of our democracy, such as elections. He faces multiple charges, including falsifying business records, illegally retaining defense information, and obstruction and conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Hunter Biden faces tax and gun charges and is now the subject of a special prosecutor.

All of these suspects will have their day in court and will be allowed to defend themselves — as long as they show up. But it’s imperative that we allow our systems of justice and government to work as they were intended to work.

What all three arrests show is that no one is above the law and that our legal system is working.

Statesman editorials are the unsigned opinion of the Idaho Statesman’s editorial board. Board members are opinion editor Scott McIntosh, opinion writer Bryan Clark, editor Chadd Cripe, newsroom editors Dana Oland and Jim Keyser and community members Mary Rohlfing and Patricia Nilsson.

This story was originally published August 14, 2023, 12:36 PM.

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