In other words, the purpose of the federal bureaucracy’s “grazing fee” was never to provide a fair-market value for the cost to taxpayers of permitting grazing on public land but simply to drive those cattle off the land, and their owners out of the ranching business. As a form of coercion, it worked. But it is not a “law” that should command any respect.
I think it’s absurd and obnoxious that an obscure and unaccountable government agency should rule an area the size of France, Germany and Italy combined. What for? Why should the 26th largest country on earth (which the Bureau of Land Management is) be maintained in perpetuity as the world’s biggest nature preserve for the desert tortoise? The seven-eighths of the United States that isn’t under the iron rod of the BLM is the Brokest Nation in History: it wouldn’t hurt to have a little more productive land.
But you can’t win in court against a federal agency: They’re always right. As John Hinderaker said, there’s no place for the Bundys and their way of life in the new America. So, a year or two down the line, when the cameras have gone away, the BLM enforcers will win, and no one will mind because Cliven Bundy’s a racist so a paramilitarized land-management agency is really nothing to worry about, is it?