Constitutional Interpretation Is Realm Of Courts

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Editor:

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.

Ron Paludan

Comments

Donald Cline 7 months, 1 week ago

“Who gets to decide when there is a dispute over the meaning of the wording of the Constitution? You?”

Yes. Me. And you. And every other adult citizen of the United States. It is our right and our duty as citizens to challenge in word and deed the legislation and the enforcement of any federal color of law not authorized by the U.S. Constitution or prohibited by that document to the States.

All political power flows from the people. The government governs by the Consent of the Governed, and that Consent is conveyed in sharply limited terms by the Constitution of the United States. Our fundamental right to reject oppressions and tyrannies not authorized by the Constitution of the United States should not depend upon having upwards of a hundred thousand dollars in disposable income necessary to take a tyrannical law or practice to the Supreme Court, a court just as likely to rule in favor of federal thuggery as not – and has recently done so several times. The Supreme Court does not issues us our rights and the Supreme Court has no lawful authority to take them away. We don't have to ask the Supreme Court for permission to exercise our rights, Ron. They are a Gift from God, not government.

You cite UNITED STATES v GARDNER as justifying the armed and armored SWAT team assault on the Bundy Ranch in Nevada, when in fact GARDNER does not address nor authorize federal enforcement of debt collection at the point of a gun, does not authorize assault with deadly weapons by federal snipers on a hilltop pointing their scoped rifles at American citizens, does not in fact cite any Constitutional authorization for the Bureau of Land Management to even exist, let alone maintain its own standing army, and lastly does not address the fact that the federal government is not delegated Constitutional authority to even own any “Places” (other than a seat of government, now settled) for any purpose other than the “Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--”. Article I Section 8 Clause 17, U.S. Constitution.

Did you know, Ron, that the founders of our nation of liberty were very clear that they opposed a standing army? Did you know that our military, unlike every other nation in the world, is required to swear or affirm an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, not the government? Does it seem to you like the administration is trying to cloak its creation of a "standing civilian army" like the Marxist infesting our White House has said he wants by giving every federal agency in the government a weapon division of its own? He thinks some day he is going to activate his standing army and take over, and that is the very definition of an ignorant fool.

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