Who gets to decide when there is a dispute over the meaning of the wording of the Constitution? You?
Here’s the reality: No human language, English included, is so precise that there can never be disagreement over the meaning of every phrase — there will be cases of multiple interpretations. The courts are there to settle these arguments, and provide a far superior solution to disputes than which side has the better sniper positions and heaviest artillery.
Rulings that were contrary to a recent letter writer’s arguments go back long before FDR and long after. Even the most conservative, “Strict Constructionist” justices have ruled in favor of the federal government’s right to own and regulate its property.
Art I Sec 8 Cl 17 — The writer is overlooking the first part: “The Constitution authorizes the federal government to own and manage land ceded to it for a seat of government (DC) ...” This does not exclude property outside of DC since that power is delegated in elsewhere.
US v Gardner — The writer states: “The controversy in Gardner was not a constitutional issue and the constitutional issue was never raised.”
There were several constitutional issues raised by Gardner (See parts III & IV). The court’s finding: “Thus, as the United States has held title to the unappropriated public lands in Nevada since Mexico ceded the land to the United States in 1848, the land is the property of the United States.” The United States Constitution provides in the Property Clause that Congress has the power “to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.” U.S. Const. art. IV, §3, cl. 2.”
“Gardner argued that federal ownership of the public lands in Nevada is unconstitutional under the 10th Amendment.” The court ruled “Federal ownership of the public lands within a state does not completely divest the state from the ability to exercise its own sovereignty over that land. The state government and the federal government exercise concurrent jurisdiction over the land. In Kleppe v. New Mexico, the Supreme Court held that the Wild Free-roaming Horses and Burros Act was not an impermissible intrusion on the sovereignty of New Mexico.
The writer also claims “Nevada was not a state at the time of the Gardner controversy; therefore the Gardner argument didn’t apply.” Look carefully. 1) The United States v Gardner ruling was in 1997. Nevada became a state in 1864. 2) Contrary to your statement, the court ruled: “The United States, then, was not required to hold the public lands in Nevada in trust for the establishment of future states. Rather, under the Property Clause, the United States can administer its federal lands any way it chooses, including the establishment of a national forest reserve.”
Perhaps Mr. Bundy will attempt the writer’s arguments in future litigation. Most of us would find it difficult to find sympathy for lawyers, but that might be an exception.