Give states back their land
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