Legal Scholars File Brief Supporting National Monuments Case against Trump

by Sarah Krakoff | November 26, 2018

In 2017, President Trump signed a proclamation reducing by about 85 percent the size of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, a large landscape of pristine red rock canyons and culturally and historically significant Native American sites. He claimed that he had the authority to shrink this and any other national monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906 and had previously ordered the Department of the Interior to review additional monuments whose designations stretch back decades.

But does federal law really allow the president to "repeal and replace" our national monuments once they're established?

In a recent amicus brief that Professor Bob Anderson (University of Washington) and I filed with 11 other legal scholars, we answer that question with a resounding "no." The plain and clear text of the Antiquities Act is intentionally narrow, authorizing the president to establish national monuments to protect "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest" and to "reserve parcels" of public lands to create those monuments. The law does not provide any authority or process for reversing those designations or modifying the size of national monuments once they're established.

The law's legislative history reinforces its text. Throughout the early years of the 20th century, Congress and the executive branch proposed and debated a variety of proposals to stop the looting of Native American ...

You Are No Theodore Roosevelt

by Evan Isaacson | September 05, 2017
Last month, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke submitted his long-anticipated report to President Trump that recommends dismantling and looting some of America's treasured monuments and antiquities. (This was interesting timing, given that the president stood firmly behind the preservation of some other, far less-cherished monuments.) In anticipation of the report, Theodore Roosevelt IV, the 26th president's great-grandson, wrote a letter to the editor in the Houston Chronicle telling Zinke that his actions have failed to live up to the legacy ...

Trump's Plan to Dismantle National Monuments Comes with Steep Cultural and Ecological Costs

by Sandra Zellmer | May 04, 2017
Professors Michelle Bryan and Monte Mills of the University of Montana co-authored this article with Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar and University of Nebraska—Lincoln Professor Sandra Zellmer. It originally appeared in The Conversation on May 3, 2017. In the few days since President Trump issued his Executive Order on National Monuments, many legal scholars have questioned the legality of his actions under the Antiquities Act. Indeed, if the president attempts to revoke or downsize a monument designation, such actions ...

Trump's Environmental Steamroller Bears Down on National Monuments

by Robert Glicksman | May 01, 2017
Donald Trump's antagonism toward environmental and natural resource protections seems to know no bounds, legal or otherwise. Among his latest targets are our national monuments, which include some of the most beautiful and historically, scientifically, culturally, and ecologically important tracts of federally owned lands. During the reign of destruction the president has unleashed in his first 100 days in office, his commitment to fossil fuel resource extraction and development regardless of the impact on our nation's natural resource heritage has ...

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