December 22, 2010
With the arrival of the twentieth century the American people have been introduced to a new way of theft – theft by government. Make no mistake, governments have always existed on the backs of the people they govern, our government is no different. Governments do not create wealth, they do not produce anything, and at a minimum can be a nuisance and at worse a tyrannical nightmare. This article deals with one aspect of government theft – the unconstitutional act of state land confiscation.
According to the Nationalatlas.gov website, the federal government “owns” nearly 650 million acres of land. To put this into perspective – that would equate to owning property the size of the entire state of Texas, plus the entire state of California, two times over. You can view a graphical representation of the area owned here.
These lands have been seized by the federal government by both Presidential Decree or by Congressional mandate. Most often the espoused intent has been to preserve historic land or open lands, or some other historical nexus. But in reality it has been to hold power over certain states that contain natural resources that the federal government wishes to control or under the auspices of Interstate Commerce. Even as far back as the early 1860’s the federal government has been using land grabs to shape this nation as they see fit. In 1862, the Congress under President Lincoln enacted the Pacific Railroad Act which granted lands to build the Transcontinental Pacific railroad and they haven’t stopped taking since.
As with all governmental decisions and laws the unintended consequences, (mostly), is that of government creep. (I am not alluding to personal traits here.) As government does one act to gain lands for one reason it becomes so much easier for the next land grab to occur based upon any other “reasonable” logic.
One such logic is that of preservation of wild life areas, or to preserve historical areas. Knowing that North America has been the home to nomadic tribes for past eon’s it would be an open invitation for the federal government to take whatever land they wanted, for whatever purpose, as long as they tied it to preservation of land and history. But just as Congress has no constitutional authority to divest taxpayer money on charity nor is it constitutional to do so for any reason that they are not empowered to do under the Constitution.
The founders were very clear on the issue of what lands the federal government could acquire – it states in Article 3, Section 8: “To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;”
The ownership of property by the federal government, as in the powers delegated to it, was to be for enumerated purposes and none other. All lands not utilized for the specific enumerated purposes of Congress or owned through actions not sanctioned by the Constitution and thereby would constitute and unconstitutional taking by the federal government.
One of the earliest examples of this “takings” mentality is the 1906 American Antiquities Act. Although this act did not identify specific lands that could be taken, it did authorize the President “in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon lands owned by the Government… in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects… when such objects are situated upon a tract covered by a bona fide unperfected claim or held in private ownership, the tract… may be relinquished to the Government, and the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to accept the relinquishment of such tracts in behalf of the Government…”
With this wording presidents have expanded this to include massive land grabs that encompass millions of acres. One such grab was the Grand Staircase Escalantes in Utah with a total transfer of nearly 1.9 million acres under President Clinton, making the area seized slightly larger than the entire state of Delaware. The purported reason for the taking was to preserve pristine American Indian lands, but when the land that was taken is overlaid with a geological minerals map it becomes questionable that the real reason may have been to gain possession of the vast coal and oil shale reserves that lie beneath the Grand Staircase Escalantes. In fact the act killed the building of the Andalex Coal Mine that was due to begin operation in a remote section of the Kaiparowitz Plateau and would have brought many jobs to the local economy.
So with the declaration of a President, millions of acres of land can be stolen from the people and states of the Union, solely by decree and with very little recourse by the people. This sounds much more like a dictatorship or an oligarchy than it does a republic.
Many more acres have been taken by the federal government at the time states were allowed to join the Union, unconstitutionally I might add. I make no claim that the federal government does not enjoy exclusive legislation in any area that is constitutionally under their jurisdiction, as stated above, however, upon a state being granted statehood the federal government relinquishes its exclusivity of legislation to the state, and whereas the new state shall become on par with all other states, is guaranteed its Tenth Amendment right.
Justice Story, in Volume 4 of The Founders’ Constitution, stated: “The power of congress over the public territory is clearly exclusive and universal…is settled… But the power of congress to regulate the other national property (unless it has acquired, by cession of the states, exclusive jurisdiction) is not necessarily exclusive in all cases. If the national government own a fort, arsenal, hospital, or lighthouse establishment, no so ceded, the general jurisdiction of the state is not excluded in regard to the site; but, subject to the rightful exercise of the powers of the national government, it remains in full force.”
Notice how Justice Story relates directly back to the Constitution in determining the rightful ownership of national property? It is tied directly to the “needful buildings” portion of Article 3, section 8. As I and many others, have stated – the actions of the federal government, in order to be constitutional, must derive that power from a grant within the Constitution. All other powers are reserved to the states or the people (10th Amendment). So whether by presidential proclamation, congressional act, or assumed ownership when converting to statehood, the federal government does not have the constitutional authority to grab massive acreage of land regardless of how noble the sentiment or purpose.
I bring this up to highlight a bill that is intended by to proposed by Senator Reid called the “America’s Great Outdoors Act of 2010,” which is actually a substitute amendment to the “Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act of 1999.” Oh yea, quite logical – financial assistance relates very well to the great outdoors – Really?
This bill is more than a thousand pages of conversion of lands within the states of New Mexico, Texas, Oregon, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Virginia, Wyoming, Ohio, Colorado, Hawaii, California, Maryland, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, New Hampshire, Vermont, Michigan, Nevada, Alabama, eligible sites where Revolutionary, Civil, or War of 1812 battles may have taken place, and other areas that are encompassed in waterway and trail portions of this act.
The majority of lands identified in this act are currently, and as noted above unconstitutionally, owned by the federal government. This act, in many cases, expands the size of these holdings as well as, in most cases, greatly restricts the usage of these lands and in some cases only allows entry by license to selected “professional” entities.
This bill also expands the federal land grab in New Mexico alone by over 257 million acres. Hundreds of miles of river and adjoining land is identified for control and an additional 1,200 miles of trails added to the government ledger. Billions are identified to be spent on lakes, fisheries, coastal waters, coral reefs, and various other aquatic programs encompassing hundreds of miles of water ways.
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This massive bill infringes on the sovereignty of the states of the Union and is hoisted upon the backs of the American taxpayer. As another lame duck Congress attempts to push through as much pork and expand their power as much as possible in the last days of their dying careers they think more of themselves than their oaths to protect and defend the Constitution or even protect the people they so poorly represent. Let your representative and senator know that we are fed up with their lies and their corruption. Return the lands stolen from the states and the people they are supposed to represent and get the hell out of our lives.
© 2010 Michael LeMieux - All Rights Reserved
LeMieux was born in Midwest City, Oklahoma in 1956 and graduated from
Weber State University in Utah with a degree in Computer Science. He
served in both the US Navy and US Army (Active duty and National Guard)
and trained in multiple intelligence disciplines and was a qualified
paratrooper. He served with the 19th Special Forces Group, while in
the National Guard, as a Special Forces tactical intelligence team member.
He served tours to Kuwait and Afghanistan where he received the Purple
Heart for injuries received in combat.
Mr. LeMieux left military duty at the end of 2005 after being medically discharged with over 19 years of combined military experience. He currently works as an intelligence contractor to the US government.
Michael is a strict constitutionalist who believes in interpreting the constitution by the original intent of the founding fathers. His research has led him to the conclusion that the republic founded by the Constitution is no longer honored by our government. That those who rule America today are doing so with the interest of the federal government in mind and not the Citizens. Michael believes that all three branches of government have strayed far from the checks and balances built into the Constitution and they have failed the American people. A clear example is the Second Amendment, which the Supreme Court and the founders have all said was an individual right and could not be "infringed" upon, now has more than 20,000 state and federal laws regulating every aspect of the individuals right, a definite infringement. He has traveled around the world living in 14 States of the Union including Hawaii, and visited (for various lengths of time) in Spain, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Korea, Scotland, Pakistan, Mauritius, Somalia, Diego Garcia, Australia, Philippines, England, Italy, Germany, and Puerto Rico.
Michael now lives in Nebraska with his wife, two of his three children, Mother-in-Law and grandchild. His hobbies include shooting, wood-working, writing, amateur inventor and scuba diving when he can find the time.
Contact Michael through his Website: www.constitutiondenied.com