Modern Day Range War: The Hage Case

The federal government has announced its intent to appeal a 2008 Supreme Court ruling on the Wayne Hage case, a battle that goes back to when the western cattle rancher first sued the feds in 1991.

Hage sued the government for violating his Constitutionally protected right to his property, a takings without just compensation. The government filed a claim for the Hage water rights and  seized his cattle. The battle became an epic range war waged by the federal government against a rancher holding long-recognized, privately held, water and grazing rights. In Nevada, a state that is more than 90% federally managed, it is recognized in the Courts that Public Lands are owned by The People and the federal government is strictly limited in their authority under the Tenth Amendment and states’ rights.

In 2008, the US Supreme Court agreed and awarded the Hage estate damages of $4.2 million in 2008 ($14.4 million when interest and penalties were added), giving the feds until October 2, 2010 to pay  up or appeal. Our government chose to appeal. 

Western cattle rancher Wayne Hage and his second wife, Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth both died in 2006. His first wife, Jean, died in 1999.

Wayne had only one life to give but the government lives forever and the fight goes on.

Wayne’s battle has been funded by $20 donations from hundreds of thousands of property rights supporters around the world.

It’s an important case, worthy of our support. So, pass the hat — make that a cowboy hat! Support justice, the cowboy way!

Key links:

Never met Wayne? Meet him online in this series of interviews.

Th Sheriff of Nye County, Nevada defended the Hage’s property rights and earned the title “The Constitutional Sheriff.”

Read the Wayne Hage story in Storm Over Rangelands. and at

Here’s a very good article on the 2008 decision and you can read the August 2008 decision.

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