by: the Common Constitutionalist
So the greenie loon website ClimateProgress has unearthed a “scandal” regarding Western state attorneys general. It seems these scoundrels are trying to sue the feds to try to reclaim, take back the land the federal government has taken over the years, including the hallowed National Parks.
They write, “On video, Colorado Republican Atty. Gen. candidate Cynthia Coffman is seen telling reporters that she intends to lead a legal fight against the United States government to seize America’s national forests on public lands for state ownership and control.”
Notice ClimateProgress uses the pejorative “seize” instead of reacquire or reclaim. It lends an air of thuggery or illegality. Tricky, eh?
They continue: “Across the West, there is a growing group of fringe politicians advocating a transfer of America’s public lands to state ownership and control.” You’ll also notice anything and anyone who doesn’t agree 100% with their agenda is “fringe”.
“Coffman’s statements align her with Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, who is publicly advocating for the state to seize national forests and other public lands in Colorado. If both are elected, Colorado would join Utah as the second state where the Governor and Attorney General are actively pursuing state transfer proposals.”
Evidently, many side with ClimateProgress’s position. One exception being, Judge Andrew Napolitano, who other than Mark Levin, is my go to guy on the Constitution.
On Sean Hannity’s TV program last April, the two had this exchange: “Look at the percentage they [the federal government] own in Nevada, 81% Utah, 66%. Idaho, 61%,” Hannity said. “Why does the government own all of this land anyway?”
Napolitano warned: “The Constitution simply does not authorize the federal government to own any of this land. All of it is being held unconstitutionally and all of it should be returned to the private property owners from which it was taken or to the states in which it exists, period.”
Unfortunately, most don’t agree with the judge. Many, if not all “scholars” point to Article IV, Section 3, Paragraph 2 of the Constitution for proof that federal land grabs are just dandy and constitutional.
Punditfact reported that in 2007, the Congressional Research Service, the nonpartisan research arm that works on behalf of Democrats and Republicans, explored the legal roots of federal land ownership. It’s finding was unambiguous. “The Property Clause gives Congress the authority over federal property generally, and the Supreme Court has described Congress’s power to legislate under this clause as ‘without limitation’,” the researcher wrote.
Well it must be true if a “nonpartisan” service who works for Congress says their power is without limit. Everything that I’ve read by the founders would lead me to that same conclusion – that they wanted an all powerful, limitless central authority. Isn’t that the cornerstone of federalism?
Punditfact continued: “The Heritage Foundation says the same thing on its guideline to the Constitution. It provides the key text from Article IV of the Constitution. “The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.”
They asked another legal scholar at Heritage, John Malcolm, if they were misinterpreting anything. Malcolm told them they had it right. “I’m not aware of anything in the Constitution that would preclude the federal government from owning land in these Western states,” Malcolm told Punditfact. They added that, “In 1911, the Supreme Court affirmed the use of large tracts of land as national forests, held in the public interest.”
But whose interest? Seems to me that is a state legislative decision. What legislature voted on it? None!
The founders were brilliant men and every word, every syllable of the Constitution was carefully thought out and crafted. In paragraph after paragraph “States are mentioned – “by the States” – “for the States” – “of the States”, etc.
Yet somehow the founders, these brilliant thinkers and wordsmiths overlooked or merely forgot the word “State” or “States” in Paragraph 3. Did they just assume posterity would “know” they meant “States” to be territory or other property? Of course not, and you’d be a fool to think so – but I guess there are a lot of fools.
If the founders truly believed what the “academics” tell us Article IV says, then why even have states? If states have no claim or hold no sovereignty over the land within their borders, why bother with borders at all? Why draw state lines?
I can unconditionally guarantee that if the Constitution were interpreted the way these justices and academics claim, there would be no Constitution. It would never have been ratified.
Welcome to the United Land Mass of America.