From: Hank Ashmore

The Deplorable Infidel



There are 2.27 billion acres of land in this country. The federal government owns approximately 640 million acres or about 28%. These holdings include national parks, national forests, recreation areas, wildlife refuges, vast tracks range and wasteland, reservations held in trust for Native Americans tribes, military bases, and ordinary federal buildings. These vast land holdings are managed by eight different federal agencies: Bureau of Land Management, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Reclamation, United States Forest Service, United States Army Corps of Engineers, and Tennessee Valley Authority. Although federal property can be found in every state, the largest concentrations are in the west, where for example, the federal government owns over 80% of the lands within Nevada. The primary constitutional authority for the management and control of this vast real-estate empire is the Property Clause found in the Constitution under Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2. The exact scope of this clause has long been a matter of debate. Broadly speaking, three different theories have been advanced.

The narrowest conception, which can be called the “proprietary theory”, maintains that the Property Clause simply allows Congress to act as an ordinary owner of land. The broadest conception, which can be called the “police-power theory”, regards the clause as conferring not only the powers of ownership, but general sovereign authority to regulate private conduct that occurs on federal land or that affects federal lands. Although most commentators have polarized around the proprietary and police-power theories, there is also an intermediate perception of the Property Clause, which can be labeled the “protective theory”. This perception would go beyond the proprietary theory in regarding the clause as a partial source of sovereign authority. But it would stop short of the police-power theory by limiting that authority to legislation designed to protect the proprietary interests of the United States.

It is not certain which of these theories corresponds with the original understanding of the Framers, inasmuch as the debates from the Constitutional Convention and the ratification process have little to say about the Property Clause. One clue is provided by the structure of the Constitution. Article I, Section 8, which sets forth the enumerated powers of Congress, includes a specific grant of power over the governance of federal property.  Article I, Section 8, Clause 17, known as the Enclave Clause, is plainly a grant of sovereign authority – indeed, exclusive sovereign authority – over the District of Columbia and other enclaves acquired with the consent of the state in which they are located.

Article I, Section 8 is the place where one would expect to find a grant of power to Congress to exercise political sovereignty over federal lands. Article IV, in contrast which generally deals with issues of state-to-state relations, would be an odd place to put such a power. Moreover, it is inconsistent with the careful drafting of the Constitution to assume that the Framers included two overlapping grants of sovereign political authority over federal lands. These structural considerations make it doubtful that the broad police-power theory is consistent with the original understanding of the Founding Fathers.

The Founding Fathers distrusted strong governments. The writings of Franklin, Paine, Adams, Madison, Hamilton Jay and Jefferson all deal with the fear of excessive government power and all of the Founding Fathers, with no exception, were solidly and unequivocally in favor of limited government. This is the reason the Founding Fathers included the Enumerated Powers in the Constitution, Article I, Section8. These powers defines the limit of power and scope given to Congress.  Clause 17 defines the power to purchase land. Limiting the amount of land that could be purchased did not sit well with the progressives in Congress and in the courts. Therefore, the courts ruled under the Property Clause, Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 in the Constitution, congress has the power to purchase land. These rulings ignored the Enumerated Power and allowed for the massive acquisition of land across this country and the creation of all the federal bureaucracies listed above. This is a great example of what happens when Congress and the courts ignore the Constitution, especially the Enumerated Powers, a  massive expansion of the federal government which is exactly what the Founders feared. The Founding Fathers never intended for the Federal Government to own over one quarter of the land that makes up this nation!

The Deplorable Infidel




There is a rumor going around Washington D.C. that Hank Johnson has learned to tie his shoes.



One thought on “FOOD FOR THOUGHT

  1. It is too bad that War Criminal Bush did not listen to Hank Johnson when he responded to U.S. President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address by criticizing the war in Iraq, saying “This war has proven to be one of the gravest missteps in the recent history of our country. It is time for President Bush to face the music and respond to the urgent demands of a frustrated country.”
    Hank is not the brightest bulb on the tree, but he is not a War Criminal like Bush.

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