It was a long weekend here at Grumpy Opinions as myself and several other Grumpy Contributors monitored the situation at the Bundy Ranch just outside of Bunkerville Nevada. I wasn’t caught completely by surprise, The Mad Jewess had been watching things develop, and predicted it would become a major story, long before anyone else was paying attention. In spite of The Mad Jewesses warning, I wasn’t prepared for an event that pitted heavily armed government agents, against thousands of protesters, many of whom were armed, and had no intention of letting BLM Agents use them for target practice.. As it turned out, no-one, on either side, was stupid enough to fire the first shot.
On Monday I decided to try and figure out why the Federal Government has so much control over what happens to a small rancher.
It turns out all states aren’t created equal. You’d need a couple weeks and a team of lawyers to sort it all out, here’s the real short version:
Starting in 1802 laws called “Enabling Acts” were passed that ‘enabled’ territories to become states.. There’s a different ‘Enabling Act’ for each state. Eventually these laws morphed into a requirement that new states cede all unowned land to the Federal Government- and put a statement to that effect into their state constitutions in order to join the Union.. This one, called an Ordinance, is found near the top of the Nevada Constitution, and is a part of the document..
Slavery prohibited; freedom of religious worship; taxation of certain property. [Effective on the date Congress consents to amendment or a legal determination is made that such consent is not necessary.] In obedience to the requirements of an act of the Congress of the United States, approved March twenty-first, A.D. eighteen hundred and sixty-four, to enable the people of Nevada to form a constitution and state government, this convention, elected and convened in obedience to said enabling act, do ordain as follows, and this ordinance shall be irrevocable, without the consent of the United States and the people of the State of Nevada:
First. That there shall be in this state neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, otherwise than in the punishment for crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.
Second. That perfect toleration of religious sentiment shall be secured, and no inhabitant of said state shall ever be molested, in person or property, on account of his or her mode of religious worship.
Third. That the people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that lands belonging to citizens of the United States, residing without the said state, shall never be taxed higher than the land belonging to the residents thereof; and that no taxes shall be imposed by said state on lands or property therein belonging to, or which may hereafter be purchased by, the United States, unless otherwise provided by the Congress of the United States.
This creates a conflict with Article I Section 8 Cl 17.. Which states very clearly, the states own the land, and if the feds want it, they have purchase it with the approval of the state legislature..
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of Particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;–
The Federal Government, and supporters of an all powerful central government point to Article IV Section 3 Cl 2 which gives the government the power to regulate the territories as justification. Referred to frequently by people who believe the Federal Government should treat the Western States like Colonies , The plain language does not appear to apply once a territory becomes a state-
The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.
The result is the original 13 states got to keep all their land, minus what the government purchased lawfully, generally less than 1 percent.
Most of the states carved out of land west of the Appalachians, the Northwest territory and those situated on land acquired by the Louisiana Purchase eventually managed to get ownership of 95% or more more of their land.. Even that took a fight, and a lot of bitching and complaining. From The American Land Council
As much as 90% of all lands in Illinois and Missouri (and AL, LA, AR, IN, FL, etc.) were federally controlled for decades! With so much land under federal control, these States persistently argued they could not:
• adequately fund education,
• grow their economies, or
• responsibly manage their abundant
They banded together, refused to be silent or take “NO” for an answer, and compelled Congress to transfer title to their lands.
In 1959, Congress granted directly to the State of Hawaii (the last and western-most State): “the United States’ title to all the public lands … within the boundaries of the State of Hawaii, title to which is held by the United States immediately prior to its admission into the Union.”
But, for the Western States, those west of Colorado things have been different. Like the states mentioned above, In order to considered for statehood they were forced to relinquish title to any unappropriated land to the Federal Government in their Constitutions, however the Federal Government has so far refused to extinguish it’s claim to the land..
Once again, from the same land council page:
Thomas Maddock, 1931 Address to Western Governors attached to the 1932 Congressional Record on Granting Remaining Unreserved Public Lands to States: The federal government only holds bare legal title to the public lands “for temporary purposes, and to execute the trusts,” as the U.S. Supreme Court stated, which were created by agreement of the States as far back as 1780. This trust or, “solemn compact,” obligation of Congress to dispose of the public lands was repeatedly reaffirmed in the unique Enabling Act (or constitution) language of virtually all new states, both east and west of Colorado.
This more than 200-year-old obligation of Congress to “dispose of” the public lands goes far beyond simply selling the public lands if it is able. Homestead laws were just one of many means by which
Congress disposed of the public lands, including granting public lands directly to the States as it did with Hawaii, Michigan and others.
President Andrew Jackson provides one of the best, contemporaneous summaries of this historical and constitutional obligation of Congress to dispose of the public lands in an 1833 veto statement included here as Attachment A and also available at the “Resources” tab at http://americanlandscouncil.org/
Unlike the the other states that been previously admitted to the Union, Congress has never honored it’s promise to relinquish title to their land. Judging from their actions at the Bundy Ranch, they have no intention of doing so anytime soon.
As a result, few of the Western States were left with even 50% of their own land. Some like Nevada and Utah only managed to get to keep about 15% of their own dirt – making them third class states, in some respects, little more than territories with representation in DC…
To environmentalists and a president who considers cow farts a crime against nature, ranchers like Bundy are an abomination, more so since most own guns… It’s pretty clear this president is much more concerned about the “Rights” of illegal aliens, then he is about rights of US Citizens living in third class states…
Besides the millions of acres needed for the American cattle herd is land that can be covered with Chinese solar panels and bird killing windmills. Beneath that land there are trillions of dollars worth of minerals, and at least a 200 year supply of oil.. Resources that Washington insiders like Harry Reid seem to be happy to sell to the Chinese cheap, provided a family member gets a cut of the deal..
The folks in Utah are tired of their third class status..
Maggie over at Maggie’s Notebook is also doing research on this and has some additional information
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