Give states back their land

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

In his other­wise ex­cel­lent ar­ti­cle on fed­eral land grabs (“A mon­u­men­tal is­sue in Maine,” B3, April 17), Robert Knight fails to men­tion why Wash­ing­ton is able to get away with this.

Ar­ti­cle I, Sec­tion 8, clause 17 of the Con­sti­tu­tion only al­lows the U.S. gov­ern­ment to own a fed­eral dis­trict for the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, which is not to ex­ceed 10 miles square; any build­ings nec­es­sary to carry out its le­git­i­mate, con­sti­tu­tional func­tions; and any nec­es­sary mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions. In di­rect vi­o­la­tion of this, the U.S. gov­ern­ment today claims ti­tle of own­er­ship over about half the land in the coun­try, in­clud­ing 30, 50 per­cent and even 90 per­cent of the land in some states.

When new states are ad­mit­ted to the Union, Ar­ti­cle IV of the Con­sti­tu­tion re­quires Congress to “dis­pose” of their lands, turn­ing full sovereignty of those lands to the states, thus ad­mit­ting them on an “equal foot­ing” with the orig­i­nal 13 states. For the most part, this has not been done. Vir­tu­ally all states ad­mit­ted af­ter the orig­i­nal 13 have had to fight Congress and the courts to re­lin­quish fed­eral hold on their lands, so that they could man­age their own af­fairs.

Pres­i­dent Trump should in­sist on im­me­di­ate leg­is­la­tion to turn full sovereignty of the lands in each state over to that state, and Congress

should make such leg­is­la­tion a top pri­or­ity.

THOMAS M. CRAW­FORD Lau­rel

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