Trump Defies Constitution

Posted on July 11, 2017

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President Donald Trump issued an executive order in April opening up many National Monuments in a blatant attempt to industrialize these magnificent places for the oil, gas, private water and logging industries as the beneficiaries.

Trump claims that he is acting in the public interest by opening up dozens of national monuments. These include the Giant Sequoia Forrest and the Grand Canyon.

Lawyers at American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, argue that it is wishful thinking to believe that Trump cannot revoke or reduce national monuments designated by earlier presidents. These lawyers fundamentally misunderstand the nature of federal authority over public lands.

The Property Clause of the U.S. Constitution vests all authority over federal property in Congress. In the Antiquities Act of 1906, Congress designated some of that authority, power to protect objects of historic or scientific interest, including landscapes to the president. Note the words, “to protect.”

Unlike other statues passed around the same time, Congress did not give any president the power to revoke or modify designations of presidents who came before them.

Under the Constitution it is for Congress, not Trump, to correct any unwise exercise of power to create national monuments by earlier presidents.

Congress needs to stop Trump’s violations of America’s conservation estate.

Are there enough votes in Congress to revoke Trump’s executive order on National Monuments? How long are members of Congress going to let the president use powers that belong to them? Those are the questions that need to be answered now.

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