LAW OF THE LAND
TRANSFER PROPONENTS have claimed that the federal government lacks the constitutional authority to own public lands. Professor Mark Squillace, the director of the University of Colorado Natural Resources Law Center, makes clear, however, that the Constitution’s Property Clause affords Congress full authority to do just that. He also notes that, upon entering the Union, Western territories agreed to acts relinquishing their right to claim public lands not set aside for them at statehood. “The notion that the states should have the authority to essentially have those lands revert to them is not anywhere in these enabling acts,” he says. So, in short, ignore what the Bundys say: Without a congressional decision, the federal government has full authority to retain public lands, for all people.