The Brandon Rinehart case……

We have read the decision and while we are not shocked, we are surprised at much of the language they have used, and what they cite as the premise for their decision.

In reading their opinion, primary in preemption for them is hydraulic mining. They claim since there was a defacto ban created by California over 100 years ago and was created by the state, backed by Congress, that creating laws/regulations which run afoul of Federal law is likely what they “intended”. Meaning the CA SC is interpreting that the hydraulic mining of the 1800’s is as destructive as Brandon running a dredge and removing 98% of the mercury, gold and other trash. That it wasn’t stopped must mean that was there intent.There is no comparison in our opinion, none. You must get to “a destructive, or damaging method” to compare the two, otherwise it is like comparing a camp fire to the 260,000 acre Rim Fire a few years ago.

First, there MUST be proof there is damage by dredges. Unlike hydraulic mining, suction dredging does not flood the valley farms and deposit hundreds thousands of yards of sediment in the lower river. There are no studies in which it shows suction dredging harms even one fish. Suction dredging has had a positive impact on the environment, it is political ideology which says it doesn’t, not science.

They interpreted that since the 1866, 1870 and 1872 mining acts did not “expressly” state they could mine, and delineate how, just focused on the “real property” mining right, they are inferring they didn’t mean someone could actually mine the claim, just own it. This is truly absurd. If Congress expressly fought for the right to retain ownership of the mining claim, anyone could come to a reasonable conclusion that they also intended them to MINE the claim.

That there is zero evidence, after over 20 independent, accredited agencies and fisheries biologists have performed exhaustive, expensive and intricate studies on suction dredging that there is no evidence damage to fish or their habitat exists should be a prerequisite to citing a comparison to hydraulic mining.

They have even stated several others courts had it “wrong” and gone against those rulings. The CA Supreme Court just changed the rule of law.

So……what happens now?

The recourse is to take this to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Our research a few months ago showed that there are only 3%, yes, 3% of the cases presented to SCOTUS which are actually then heard by SCOTUS. Not great odds. Although, this case has much more that just a man dredging his case in it, so it might have a higher chance of being heard.

Then we run into the cost of this case if it goes to SCOTUS and how long it would take. It would easily be over 7 figures and would likely take years. PLF, Pacific Legal Foundation, working with Western Mining Alliance (WMA) has expressed interest in Brandon’s case and this is being pursued. They are a great bunch of attorney’s and have a strong history of winning cases similar to this against USFS and BLM. WMA has done a phenomenal job of working with them over the years.

We want to thank Brandon personally for putting his butt on the line and seeing this through. Brandon, AMRA has given you our word, we will do whatever it takes, even if we have to sell our claims to pay off your bills. Your family is NOT going to be left holding the bag for your fight.

It brings into perspective just how important this next Presidential election is, especially if that new President is going to be electing Supreme Court justices.

We will continue to keep everyone posted as to what transpires in this fight for our rights.

Shannon Poe
President, AMRA

5 thoughts on “The Brandon Rinehart case……

  1. So obviously, this means no legal suction dredging unless you obtain a permit first to which they have a moratorium on, correct? In theory, the state could allow you to suction dredge if they so desire to issue a permit. Do you see them having a change of heart in the near future? Or, is the moratorium now considered a legal ban?

  2. Thanks Brandon and AMRA for all you have done. Continue the fight my family backs you.

  3. The following link will connect you to the courts published opinion regarding motorized suction dredging in any stream in California as of August 22, 2016: w

    California Supreme Court Published Opinions

    The People v. Brandon L. Rinehart SC
    Opinion Posted August 22, 2016
    Supreme Court case# S22260

    In my earthly opinion the CA Supreme Court’s opinion is limited to federal preemption. The SC elected to self-limit their opinion to the state’s right to regulate mining claims and the method of mining on federal land. The state’s right to regulate was not in dispute. The lower de-published 3rd Court of Appeals figured that out. The issue the SC over looked and did not address was the state’s continued failure to fund the legislative mandated environmental studies to establish the basis for revised regulations and permitting of placer mining activities on legally held federal mining claims.

    The SC requested briefs on the new 2016 state law prohibiting all motorized mining within 100 yards of any stream. However, the court did not address this important issue in their opinion.

    (Didn’t ARMA publish a memo from CA Department Of Water Resource or the Water Resources Control Board addressing the lack of funding for the statewide environmental studies required by the state legislation than went into effect January 2016 prohibiting all motorized mining within 100 yards of any stream?)

    Anyone who has prospected and mined on the Trinity and Klamath Rivers can testify that both Highway 299 and Highway 96 run within 100 yards of the rivers at multiple locations. Passenger cars, motorhomes, logging trucks, jet boats, motorized drift boats headed back upstream use these highways and waterways are common and daily. How do vehicle motors have less effect on wildlife and aquatic habitat than that of a placer miner’s motorized equipment? Perhaps because the vehicles are on wheels leaving a smaller carbon “footprint”.

    Here is an excerpt found on “page 10” of the SC opinion regarding local control over that of federal:

    “More generally, the law endorses in the first instance local, rather than federal, control over the mining fields. (See 30 U.S.C. §§ 22 [mineral exploration on federal land shall occur subject to ―the local customs or rules of miners in the several mining districts, so far as the same are applicable and not inconsistent with the laws of the United States‖], 28 [permitting miners to adopt local rules governing the possession of mining claims], 43 [approving state regulation of mining claim sales].) These express acknowledgements of the application of state and local law to federal mining claims suggest an apparent willingness on the part of Congress to let federal and state regulation broadly coexist, especially insofar as those state laws relate to matters other than a miner‘s ―possessory title.‖ (Id.,
    § 26.) “

    I wasn’t actually there but wouldn’t the Mining Law of 1872 have been drafted from the local customs in California at that time? Were those local customs the rules of the miners in the different California mining districts. The same rules and customs they adopted between 1848 and 1871 to deal with the claim jumping and lawlessness of the mining camps? Or are we talking about the rules and customs prior to the Bear Flag Revolt?

    Dare we even think this but can the State of California be indicted on failure to regulate? Either way you stand on the issue the court’s opinion is an interesting read on the history of mining law and regulations and the court’s legal interpretation.

    No doubt the court battles are headed to the federal level on several fronts. In the mean time, if you live or plan to prospect and placer mine in Golden State of California you may want to look at the free “Non-Motorized Recirculating Rocker Box Plans” posted on the “Gold Hog Forum” under “Prospecting Equipment Talk”.

    Good Luck and Stay Dry

  4. I too want to express my support and appreciation for Brandon standing up for all of our rights, thank you Brandon.

    In addition I want to thank AMRA and all others who stand by and support Brandon and the cause.

    Thank you for your efforts to preserve our freedoms that built this great nation.

    It’s comforting to know that people will still stand with one another for a just cause.

    Thanks again,
    Ed Shockley

  5. This is what happens when we quietly obey the law ! If we got organized enough , large enough , and made tons of noise like black lives matter maybe we would finally be heard ! We still have our first amendment rights but that is going away fast and under Hillary say good bye to that also ! Isn’t it time to get on the fucking news guys !!!

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