Update — 6/2/15: Orange County Judge Brint Carlton later told the Anti-Defamation League that he has no intention of creating a county militia.
A southeast Texas county has drawn attention recently after it became known that county officials were considering adopting a local anti-government militia group as an official “county militia.” Orange County Judge Brint Carlton endorsed the idea, calling it a “good thing.”
County commissioners decided at the last minute to postpone the vote after a commissioner voiced reservations, saying he needed more information.
The militia movement is an anti-government cause whose adherents believe that the U.S. government is collaborating with a shadowy “New World Order” conspiracy to strip Americans of their freedoms, starting with their right to bear arms, in order to eventually enslave Americans to the New World Order. The militia movement has a long history of violence and criminal acts; the Anti-Defamation League has tracked at least eight violent acts, conspiracies or major crimes linked to the militia movement just since 2011.
However, David W. Smith, the “commander” of the Golden Triangle Militia, a small southeastern Texas militia group formed in 2014, has lobbied county officials to adopt his militia group, eventually getting some support.
Though Smith has claimed to reporters that his Golden Triangle Militia is not anti-government but rather a “civil defense force which works with law enforcement,” to his own group he has showed a more conspiratorial side, arguing that “we must never let ourselves…be complacent to the schemes of the world elitists” and demanding that Americans “rid ourselves of tyrannical government.”
Smith, a former phlebotomist who now sells “monolithic domes,” has expressed support for views that are far from the mainstream. Through his Facebook profile, he is linked to a wide variety of extremist groups and figures, from anti-government conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (who popularized the recent notion that the federal government was planning to invade Texas) to various Three Percenter groups (anti-government extremists who view themselves fighting against the federal government as American colonists fought against the British). Smith ran for U.S. senate in 2014 on a platform of opposing “this unconstitutional de facto government.”
Ironically, Texas law has no provision to allow its counties to create county militias. Smith has argued that Texas law allows Orange County to “recognize” his unit as the “Orange County Ready Reserve Militia.” However, the Texas Reserve Militia is only a statutory manpower pool that exists to conform to an obsolete federal militia law dating back originally to 1792. Theoretically, the governor of Texas can call portions of the reserve militia into service in times of emergency by having county emergency boards institute a draft. Such boards have no power to call up the reserve militia on their own, however, much less “adopt” paramilitary groups. The self-styled “militias” of today have no legal relationship to the historical and statutory militia.
Despite this, Smith has claimed that counties have the authority to organize the Texas Reserve Militia. He has also asserted that the militia could come into service “by general consensus of the population should the state fail in the execution of its constitutional duties.” Smith has even claimed that county commissioners could be jailed if they refused to authorize a militia—a serious misreading of Texas law.
Smith will have to wait to see if Orange County officials schedule another vote or abandon his plan altogether.