Jailed Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy filed a lawsuit against Barack Obama, challenging his placement in solitary confinement and seeking to dismiss the federal government’s felony charges that could condemn him to die behind bars.
The suit from the rancher, who led a high-profile standoff against the government in 2014, also names US judge Gloria Navarro and Nevada senator Harry Reid.
The complaint, filed Tuesday, offers a defense of the 70-year old’s infamous comment that black people may have been “better off as slaves, picking cotton” and slams Obama for “despicable disrespectful mocking” of Bundy at the 2014 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
The lawsuit comes as Bundy faces numerous federal charges stemming from theApril 2014 showdown at his property when authorities tried unsuccessfully to seize his cattle and faced off with hundreds of supporters, some heavily armed, who defended the family’s ranch in Bunkerville, about 80 miles north-east of Las Vegas.
For more than 20 years, Bundy had refused to pay grazing fees to the federal government, arguing that the US Bureau of Land Management had no authority to regulate ranchers and that his cattle should be able to roam freely on public lands. The activist, who has become the unofficial leader of the land-use rights movement in the American west, avoided consequences for years until he was taken into custody in February.
Bundy, along with four of his sons and a dozen activists, now faces charges of conspiring against the US, assaulting and threatening law enforcement, using firearms to commit violence, and interference with interstate commerce by extortion.
The lawsuit from Bundy – who has been denied bail and remains incarcerated as he awaits trial, is scheduled for February 2017 and accuses the government of “cruel and unusual punishment” for locking him in solitary confinement. It also says officials have violated his free-speech rights, his freedom of religion, his second amendment rights and his right to a speedy trial.
The complaint outlines a series of alleged conflicts of interest and says the government has unlawfully targeted the Bundy men and “peaceful persons who were rightly armed and defended by peaceful cowboys and militias”.
The suit calls for Navarro to be removed as the judge in the Bundy case, noting that Reid recommended her for an appointment and Obama nominated her – and both Reid and Obama have publicly made negative comments about Bundy.