Hillsdale res­i­dents will host their first con­sti­tu­tional con­ference this fall.
(Photo: Facebook)

By next October, Hillsdale County res­i­dents Jon-Paul Rutan and John Smith plan to host a con­ference on con­sti­tu­tional thought in the Hillsdale area.

The con­ference will feature speeches about the Con­sti­tution by con­sti­tu­tional lawyer and speaker KrisAnne Hall, of the KrisAnne Hall Show; former Sheriff Richard Mack, who served in Graham County, Arizona; Sheriff Brad Rogers, of Elkhart County, Indiana; and others.

“We want these con­sti­tu­tional people to come in and speak and teach us their knowledge, their history, what they have expe­ri­enced, and how the Con­sti­tution can be put into prac­tical use,” Smith said.

Rutan and Smith just began planning the con­ference, but they hope to have eight to ten speakers, who will include a member of the Oath Keepers and poten­tially a gun-rights group, according to Smith.

Mack and Rogers are both members of the Con­sti­tu­tional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Asso­ci­ation. Mack, who heads the CSPOA, claims the power to refuse to enforce federal laws that dis­agree with the Con­sti­tution. Mack also started a suc­cessful lawsuit which chal­lenged the con­sti­tu­tion­ality of the Brady Handgun Vio­lence Pre­vention Act.

“I’m the only sheriff in U.S. history to take a lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court and win,” Mack said. “Not too many his­to­rians gave us credit, but this was a big step in stopping Brady Bills.  It was a big case, and probably the most for­gotten and ignored cases which the Supreme Court ever did.”

Rogers came to national attention in 2011, when he inter­ceded for a dairy farmer who was inspected by the FDA for selling unpas­teurized milk.  After inves­ti­gating the case, Rogers warned the FDA that con­tinuing to inspect the farmer’s land without a warrant would result in the arrest or removal of federal agents.

“The sheriff is the law of the land,” Rutan, who ran for Hillsdale County sheriff in 2016, said. “That is why the sheriff is such an important position, and that’s why you better know whom you are voting for. The sheriff is the highest law of the land in Hillsdale County.”

Rutan and Smith say the con­sti­tu­tional con­ference will not only focus on edu­cating the locals but also bridge the gap between the college and the town.  

“Let’s face facts: a lot of towns­people will never be able to leave Hillsdale to go see these people, ever,” Rutan said. “I think the con­ference is a good thing, a way to start breaking down the barrier between the hill and the town, and a way to bring the Con­sti­tution to the people here where a great con­sti­tu­tional college actually is.”

The con­ference will be funded partly out of Rutan and Smith’s own pockets, and partly out of dona­tions. Cur­rently, they cannot afford the cost of a con­vention space, and so they hope to hold the con­ference at Hillsdale College. Smith said they have not con­tacted the college yet.

If the con­ference is a success, Rutan says he hopes to make it an annual event.

“It doesn’t matter what political spectrum you come from: once you start under­standing the prin­ciples, you fall in love with the Con­sti­tution all over again,” Rutan said. “We are hoping to make the con­ference an annual event, where people will drive here from four or five hours away, where friend­ships will form, and where the prin­ciples of the Con­sti­tution will sprout and grow like new grass and travel throughout this county.”