Josh Arnold, who entered the race for Coeur d’Alene mayor this week, said he’s
concerned about the size, tone and responsiveness of government.
Those concepts probably wouldn’t
distinguish Arnold, a Republican precinct leader and 30-year-old planner for
the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, from most other
candidates, or from many residents of North Idaho.
But here’s one that might: Arnold’s
view of the U.S. Constitution, and the authority local government has or
doesn’t have over him, resulted in a scuffle in KootenaiCounty
court that required five bailiffs to restrain him. One of those bailiffs wound
up with a fractured elbow, and Arnold
was cited for contempt of court.
In March, Arnold
was in Kootenai County Magistrate Judge Robert Caldwell’s court for a hearing
on two counts of misdemeanor child injury. When Caldwell called for him to come up, he
refused, saying he was not a citizen under the 14th Amendment and thus not
subject to the court’s jurisdiction.
It’s an argument that some people who call themselves patriots or
constitutionalists make against submitting to the authority of person elected
since the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868. It has to do with a distinction
they draw between being a citizen of the United States or a citizen of a
specific state. It can be a complicated and seemingly convoluted debate, but it
rarely yields a good result in a courtroom.
When Arnold said he wouldn’t speak
to the judge, Caldwell
ordered him removed for contempt. Arnold
resisted and it took five bailiffs to restrain him, said Chief Bailiff and Jury
Commissioner Pete Barnes, who was one of the court officers called in to help.
“He was not going to go to the ground for anything,” Barnes said.
In the scuffle, Barnes’ elbow was fractured. He had to wear a
brace, and was on light duty for a while.
Barnes has heard arguments like not being a 14th Amendment
citizen before during his 22 years as a bailiff. “Probably twice a year we get
some group claiming this kind of thing.” But he can’t remember it ever leading
to an altercation.
is still awaiting trial on the misdemeanor charges. He says he can’t talk about
the case because it’s pending and could soon “reach a resolution.”
But he doesn’t see aninherent
conflict between his constitutional stance against submitting to the
authority of some elected officials, and seeking to be an elected official himself.
“If elected, I would be a servant of the people,” Arnold said. “What I’m
all about is responsiveness of government.”
Barnes said he doesn’t know if he’d vote for Arnold, because he doesn’t know anything
about his political stances. But he doesn’t hold a grudge over the altercation
“I talked to him afterwards, and he seemed like a nice guy,”