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Letters: What federal land?

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  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    May 16, 2013 5:24 a.m.

    You've got it backcward. All of the land is federal land before states are created. You should be asking to see the documments where the federal government gave the land in question to Utah when it became a state. If no such documents exist (and they don't), the lands remain federal lands.

  • Martin Blank Salt Lake City, UT
    May 16, 2013 5:55 a.m.

    Here in Utah, at least, the bill of sale you're looking for is titled "The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo." You're welcome.

  • Bubble SLC, UT
    May 16, 2013 6:10 a.m.

    You may not have missed an amendment - but you are missing a significant part of US history.

    Prior to the creation of the Federal government and the United States, there were only the states and each state owned certain land. All the land that comprised what became the original United States was already owned in this manner.

    Later land became part of the United States through purchases by the Federal government (Louisiana Purchase, for example) or treaties (such as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo) made with the Federal government by which the land became property of the Federal government of the United States.

    US citizens who were allowed by the Federal government to live in territories on this land were eventually able to petition the Federal government to make the territory a state - at which point some of the land in the territory became land that belonged to the new state and some of the land remained the property of the Federal government

    There is more to US history than just the Constitution.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 16, 2013 6:16 a.m.

    Chester - sorry, but there is a bill of sale for the state of Utah... to the federal government. After the end of the Mexican War, the us bought the area known as Utah from Mexico, who was the owner of it. So yes, there was a bill of sale... and it was to the federal government, not the state.

    Read up on the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, The federal government paid 15,000,000 usd for the area now known as Utah.

  • bodgerdlue Kearns, UT
    May 16, 2013 7:04 a.m.

    Wow. Where to begin? Since the letter writer opined about other people reading the Constitution I guess I could start by quoting Article IV Section 3 Paragraph 2 of the US Constitution:

    "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."

    And because the letter writer asked about a bill of sale, and since the above passage of the Constitution specifically points to Federal Property, it may be instructive to note that these portions of land were not bought from the States, because they were actually purchased from Mexico as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the Mexican American War. As a part of that treaty the United States agreed to pay Mexico $18,250,000 for the lands it was to receive. This resulted in these lands becoming Federal Property well before any of these lands were accepted into the Union as States.

    I hope that was helpful.

  • isrred South Jordan, UT
    May 16, 2013 7:16 a.m.

    The "Bill of Sale" you are looking for is the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. You know, the one that ended the Mexican American war that gave the US the land that the state of Utah now sits on? This was all federal land before states even existed.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 16, 2013 7:31 a.m.

    The only land owned by the Federal Government is the District of Columbia and those parts mentioned in the letter.

    We are a federation of States. The State is not a "county" of the Federal Government. The Federal Government's job is to facilitate commerce between the States, to act as arbitrator when problems arise, and to raise up an army and navy to protect the States from enemies. Nothing in the Constitution mentions that the Federal Government owns any land inside the boundaries of any State.

    The Federal Government cannot "give back" something that it does not already own.

  • Martin Blank Salt Lake City, UT
    May 16, 2013 7:49 a.m.

    Mr. Richards, whatever shall you do with the Utah Constitution, Article XX, Section 1? It reads: "All lands of the State that have been, or may hereafter be granted to the State by Congress, and all lands acquired by gift, grant or devise, from any person or corporation, or that may otherwise be acquired, are hereby accepted, and declared to be the public lands of the State; and shall be held in trust for the people, to be disposed of as may be provided by law, for the respective purposes for which they have been or may be granted, donated, devised or otherwise acquired."

    Why did the state constitution concede that its lands had been "granted to [it] by Congress"? How strange that you aren't citing the relevant constitutional argument.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    May 16, 2013 8:07 a.m.

    Don't forget the "Alaska Purchase".
    The United States bought the entire State from the Russian Empire in 1867 for $7.2 Million - what a country?!

    FYI -- Manhattan Island New York was purchased for 60 Dutch guilders from the Native Americans -- roughly $1000 in today's value.

    ---------

    Martin Blank
    Salt Lake City, UT

    You have to excuse Mike, he's still living in 1776 and ignores everything Abraham Lincoln did for this country.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 16, 2013 8:32 a.m.

    When Utah was a territory of the United States, it was "owned" by the Federal Government. When it was granted Statehood, it accepted its position and responsibility among the Federation of States. It because equal to all other States and was no longer a "territory" controlled and administered by the Federal Government.

    "State lands" and "Federal Lands" are two separate entities. The Utah State Constitution allows the State to own land. The U.S. Constitution has no provision for the Federal Government "owning" land, except for the District of Columbia and for military bases required for the protection of the States.

    The Federal Government "administers", it does not own. The people and the States "own". The people and the States are required to carry out every responsibility except for those duties enumerated in Article 1, Section 8, that the people assigned to the Federal Government. Notice how each of those enumerated duties is larger than can be performed by any individual State and that those duties define the relationship that must exist between the States for the federation to work properly.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 16, 2013 8:39 a.m.

    Re: "You've got it backcward [sic]. All of the land is federal land before states are created."

    Actually, the "backcward" thinking is to suggest all power and authority resides in the federal government, unless and until it deigns to dribble a little to the states.

    In those states created prior to Nevada, admission operated as an automatic cession of public lands to the state, as required by the Constitution. When Nevada was admitted, suspicion of Mormon "celestial empire" doctrine was used to justify illegally forcing ceding its right to its lands, as a condition of admission. The same illegal policy was forced on other politically-weak petitioning states with a Mormon population. Hence, intermountain Western states, including later-admitted Arizona and New Mexico, must unfairly contend with an absentee federal landlord in dealing with most public lands, unlike others without significant Mormon populations -- Nebraska, Colorado, the Dakotas, Washington Oklahoma, and even Montana, which was gerrymandered to exclude Mormons.

    Unconstitutional federal land claims in the intermountain West are simply an artefact of anti-Mormon prejudice. Nothing more.

  • HS Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    May 16, 2013 9:00 a.m.

    What an absurd, baseless article. Seriously, this issue has been resolved years ago and any person or politican who still thinks Federal land is Utah's land is simply stated, a buffon.

  • bodgerdlue Kearns, UT
    May 16, 2013 9:02 a.m.

    Mike Richards,

    Since your referenced the Utah State Constitution, you should probably re-read Article 3 Section 2 of the Utah State Constitution, which states:

    "The people inhabiting this State do affirm and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries hereof, and to all lands lying within said limits owned or held by any Indian or Indian tribes, and that until the title thereto shall have been extinguished by the United States, the same shall be and remain subject to the disposition of the United States, and said Indian lands shall remain under the absolute jurisdiction and control of the Congress of the United States."

    This section is important, because the State of Utah not only divests itself of all "unappropriated public lands", it also notes that the title holder (or owner) of those lands is the United States.

    I will agree with your assertion that this means that the people own these lands. However, you should recognize that this means that a New Yorker has as much claim to Federal Lands in Utah as does a native Utahn.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    May 16, 2013 9:12 a.m.

    Interesting legal points raised here. I guess that's why we have courts. Personally, however, I would prefer Utah's pristine lands remain public to they can be preserved for the future. I simply don't trust the state of Utah to do that.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    May 16, 2013 9:18 a.m.

    Some of you are challenging with actual state and federal constitutional language.

    What you do not understand is that some (not to name names) reject as invalid, any constitutional language or Supreme Court rulings with which they disagree regardless of how clear it is.

    While posting exact language, you may get accused of "spinning"

    You may as well be talking to a rock.

  • DougS Oakley, UT
    May 16, 2013 9:32 a.m.

    Just a thought... What is the Federal Government? Is it an entity like General Motors? Is it a private organization?

    To me, at least, it is a composite of the States and controlled by their representatives. By granting statehood, and deliniating the borders thereof, the "composite" has granted all lands therin to the State thus created with the exception of certain lands used for the "National" interests such as Parks and Military bases/Forts.

    Amendment 10 to the Constitution limits the powers of the Federal Government to those deliniated in the Constitution..all other powers are rendered to the States and/or the people...

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    May 16, 2013 9:47 a.m.

    WOW! just... wow!

    UNVELIEVABLE that this letter was printed.

    This letter is a prime example as to why we really REALLY need to require students to take more history classes in school.

    What does biology, math, and chemistry benefit you when you know absolutely nothing about where we came from, the basics on this country, and the background to this state? How are voters supposed to be informed when they don't know any of this?

    Please take more history classes folks. They could eliminate a lot of confusion I see on this board.

  • Res Novae Ashburn, VA
    May 16, 2013 10:07 a.m.

    The opposition to the Louisiana Purchase claimed that it was unconstitutional for the Federal government to buy and hold title to land. Their challenges were unsuccessful.

    Are we really arguing constitutional law issues that were settled in 1803?

    I've heard it said that anywhere you look in the State of Utah, you can see land owned by the federal government. The rebuttal to arguments against federal ownership and control is staring you right in the face.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 16, 2013 10:15 a.m.

    Those who claim that the Federal Government have all authority except what is expressly forbidden belong in the camp that tells us that the Federal Government can own land inside a State (not just military bases).

    Those who claim that the Federal Government is restricted by the people and has only the authority enumerated by the people in the Constitution belong to the camp that tells us that the Federal Government cannot own land inside a State (military bases excluded).

    Is the Constitution the Supreme Law of the Land or isn't it? Except for military bases, is the District Of Columbia (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17) the only land that the people allow the Federal Government to "own"?

    The Constitution expressly tells us that a State cannot be subdivided to create two States; therefore New York has no claim on any lands inside Utah, nor does any other State. That is forbidden by the Constitution. (Article IV). The People of New York have no claim on the land of Utah. They are not citizens of the State of Utah. Utah is not a "suburb" of New York.

    Claiming rights and authority that do no exist is unethical.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    May 16, 2013 10:42 a.m.

    Mike Richards and company, it's simple.

    Utah cannot even maintain their own roads and schools. And you want them in charge of more land??? Huh?

    Would you give your child control over your mortgage and bank account when they have been just convicted of drug selling and addiction?

    Utah shouldnt be rewarded more land Until Utah shows a capability to maintain the land they already have.

  • Bubble SLC, UT
    May 16, 2013 10:50 a.m.

    US Constitution, Article IV, Section 3: "New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

    "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."

    Obviously, the Federal Government can own property and nothing in the US Constitution indicates that when territories become states all the land within the new state cedes to the state.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    May 16, 2013 10:58 a.m.

    Mike,

    The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, as it is interpreted by the Supreme Court, not as it is interpreted by Mike Richards.

    And Real Maverick, this letter was printed only so that people like Mike Richards can agree with it.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 16, 2013 11:27 a.m.

    Re: ". . . nothing in the US Constitution indicates that . . . all the land within the new state cedes to the state."

    Well, nothing except the Constitution, itself, that is.

    Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 clearly indicates that the federal government will only exercise authority over DC and ". . . 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 clause in Article IV only applies to territory outside the borders of a state.

    Prior to Nevada's entry, all unencumbered public lands in the state were either explicitly ceded, or considered as automatically ceded, to the new state.

    Because Nevada's borders enclosed a portion of the proposed state of Deseret, the federal government forced a cession by the new state of those lands to the federal government, to keep them away from Mormons. That model was also followed for all other new states with significant Mormon populations.

    Those new states without a significant Mormon presence were not affected.

    Hmmmmm.

  • Res Novae Ashburn, VA
    May 16, 2013 11:55 a.m.

    I have to hand it to you, Mike Richards. You are nothing if not consistent on constitutional interpretation of federalism, even if your position is one that was never a majority view in antebellum America, much less after the Civil War fundamentally altered the structure of federalism.

  • bodgerdlue Kearns, UT
    May 16, 2013 12:25 p.m.

    procuradorfiscal,

    Article IV Section 3 does not "only appl(y) to territory outside the borders of a state" (I assume you actually mean outside the borders of the United States). This is because this section also applies to Federal Property.

    One of the definitions of "property" as found in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary is:

    "something owned or possessed; specifically : a piece of real estate".

    Under this standard dictionary definition of property, lands are included in any reading of Article IV Section 3 of the United States Constitution.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    May 16, 2013 1:11 p.m.

    What is most humorous to me is that people like this letter writer actually believe they have stumbled across some great gem of an idea that every other person arguing that the state owns the land has missed for the past 100 plus years. There is a reason this argument has not gone anywhere in that 100 plus years my friends.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 16, 2013 1:45 p.m.

    Re: ". . . lands are included in any reading of Article IV Section 3 of the United States Constitution."

    Not in any fair reading, they aren't. At least not the large federal landholdings in the West.

    Article IV primarily provides guarantees of fair federal action in matters between states and in the territories, and it protects people in one state from predation by those of another. Its oft-quoted "privileges and immunities" clause is, in fact, VIOLATED by the discriminatory federal treatment of new Great Basin states.

    Article IV's language "respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States," particularly when read together with Article I, Section 8 and interpreted in light of federal government actions in admitting other states, simply does NOT support a discriminatory federal lands policy applied only to intermountain Western states, post-Nevada-admission.

    Common sense, together with the great weight of legislative history, clearly support only one conclusion -- this unconstitutional federal policy was intended to discriminate against Mormons.

    Which also violates, of course, the First Amendment.

  • micawber Centerville, UT
    May 16, 2013 1:45 p.m.

    @Mike Richards:
    Article IV, ยง 3, Clause 2,of the United States Constitution says: "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." Aritlce II, section 2, gives the President the power, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties. So under the Constitutional treaty power, the federal government acquired federal land and under the Constitutional property clause, the federal government has the power to dispose of or make rules and regulations about the property it has acquired.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    May 16, 2013 1:54 p.m.

    Kent C. DeForrest argues that the Supreme Court is not bound to honor the Constitution as written, but that the Court is able to legislate new law as is convenient.

    The Court has the responsibility to measure any case against the Constitution, not against popular opinion or against the desires of other lawyers, judges or Presidents. Lawlessness can start when a court takes power to itself to legislate from the bench.

    The Constitution forbids the Federal Government to "own" land except for the District Of Columbia. The maximum size of that District is enumerated in the Constitution. Some tell us "ad nauseam" that the Constitution is "passe", that in today's "enlightened" times, that it no longer applies. Don't they wish!

    The Constitution is still in effect, even if Kent believes differently. The duties of government are enumerated in that document. All unenumerated duties fall to the States and to the people. Except for the District of Columbia, the States and the people own all land in the U.S. (except for territories outside the existing States and land set aside for military bases).

    The Constitution settled that argument when it was ratified.

  • Wonder Provo, UT
    May 16, 2013 2:32 p.m.

    Why argue with these people. You can tell them blue is blue and they'll argue that the Constitution says it's green.

  • Curmudgeon Salt Lake City, UT
    May 16, 2013 3:24 p.m.

    Mike and friends:

    Go to any title company and ask them to trace the chain of title to any land you think you may "own" in Utah (your home for example). Invariably the chain of title will go back to a "patent" issued by the federal government. Under your theory that the federal government never really owned that land, then your title to that land would be defective. Imagine how our system of land ownership would be thrown into chaos if your theory had any validity.

    Sleep well tonight.

  • Bubble SLC, UT
    May 16, 2013 4:16 p.m.

    @ procur: Your argument is that the Federal government owns the land in territories but as soon as the Federal government gives permission to that territory to become a state, if the Federal government wants to maintain control of some of those lands, the Federal government must purchase them from the state that they just gave them to? The Federal government cannot retain any rights to any of the property within the territory once it becomes a state?

    Did the state have to purchase the land from the Federal government in order to obtain ownership of it?

    If the state doesn't pay the Federal government for the land, why does the Federal government have to buy it back instead of just retaining rights to it?

    The Federal government already bought the land once - that is how it became a territory of the United States. Why do they have to buy it a second time?

    As stated in my first post, all the land in the original states belonged to the stated before there was a Federal government which is why it required purchase. Why should the Federal government have to pay twice for the land in the new states?

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    May 16, 2013 6:17 p.m.

    ONe simple oint seems tro missed.

    ALL right powers belong to people and the states,

    and federal government has no powers or rights but those granted to it by the people and the states.

    Unfortunately for the last hundred years, the federal government has been taking powers rights not given to it,

    and extreme left cheering that on.

    and continued to in these posts.

    The Federal government does not have a lot powers and rights the left claims it does.

    Any rulings by the supreme court not based not on the constitution itself and bad rulings that also need correction. Using precedent is a major bad one.

    On top of that the federal government did a lot of illegal and unconstitutional things when giving Utah it's statehood, which needs to be corrected.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 16, 2013 10:25 p.m.

    @Mr. Richards..... by what means have you gained enlightenment, a superior understanding of constitutional law, than 210 of supreme court justices. The country has acquired federal land all the way back to its beginning - its earliest days. One of the most oft quoted founding fathers executed the first federal land purchase

    Are you actually claiming to know the intent of the constitution and founding fathers greater than Jefferson himself? Really? It is all good to have opinions, to want a limited government.... but really.... you should acknowledge when there is a couple hundred years of precedent that doesn't support your interpretation.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    May 16, 2013 10:27 p.m.

    J Thompson,

    I said no such thing. Stop putting words in my mouth. All I said is that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, as it is interpreted by the Supreme Court, not by Mike Richards, and, I should add, by you. The Constitution means nothing unless interpreted to apply to real-life situations. This is what the Supreme Court is tasked to do. None of us agree with all of the Supreme Court's interpretations. For instance, I disagree with how the Court has interpreted the Second Amendment. But I still have to abide by that interpretation. I can't just declare the Supreme Court's rulings invalid. So, anyway, thanks for twisting what I wrote.

  • Res Novae Ashburn, VA
    May 17, 2013 7:58 a.m.

    @Mike Richards,

    I believe you're LDS, right? As a sidenote, a part of Joseph Smith's presidential platform was that the slaves in the South should be freed and their owners reimbursed by the federal government from proceeds obtained by the sale of its public lands in the West. So there you have direct acknowledgement from the Prophet that the federal government owned those lands. That's as good as gospel, eh? ;)

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 18, 2013 7:22 p.m.

    News flash from "truth"..... "Using precedent is a major bad one"

    So, all those rulings based on precedent.... just toss them out. Truth has declared that this age old practice is not null and void. Hundreds of years of law dating back to the Magna Carta ..... based on bad law.

    Oh.... and news flash.... lefties are the ones using precedent... evidently conservatives don't believe in the concept.

    Who knew!

    Thank heaven we have Truth to set the record straight.

  • iron&clay RIVERTON, UT
    May 19, 2013 9:07 a.m.

    The Tenth amendment to the US constitution says that the "powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution... are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    Stop the so called environmental groups, who receive funding from the banker/big government* monopoly who launder their money through elite tax exempt foundations (501 3cs), from seizing the resources of the state of Utah and it's people.

    * Always remember..... big government works for Wall Street bankers who float all the bonds that underwrite government spending programs and take their percentage on every dollar of big government debt.