- Professor Ilya Somin, George Mason Law
- Professor David Dana, Northwestern Law
The Antiquities Act of 1906 provides, in part, that “The President may, in the President's discretion, declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated on land owned or controlled by the Federal Government to be national monuments.” 54 U.S.C. §320301(a). Declaring a national monument brings substantial new layers of protected status to the areas or thing so designated, precluding many previously-authorized uses of the area or thing as well. To varying degrees, U.S. Presidents have exercised this authority both during the regular course of their administration and sometimes with heightened vigor at the end, or “midnight hour,” of their final term. Our experts examined the historic use of the Antiquities Act authority and particularly the phenomena of “midnight monument” designations across administrations, including those already completed or anticipated by the now-outgoing Obama Administration. Their analysis included a discussion of the controversial proposal to designate a Bears Ears national monument in Utah in the coming weeks, the historically large expansion in August of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to 582,578 square miles of land and sea, the September 15 designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, and more.
Native Americans on reservations suffer higher rates of crime, addiction, alcoholism, and poverty than any other group of Americans. In her new book The New Trail of Tears: How Washington Is Destroying American Indians, journalist Naomi Schaefer Riley examines the dismal situation—and the rays of hope—and shows how the cycles of poverty, addiction, crime, and family breakdown are perpetuated by government policies. “Indians,” writes Riley, “have chosen civilization; now it’s time for America to make them equal Americans.” With commentary by the Goldwater Institute Vice President for Litigation, Timothy Sandefur, our Teleforum looked at the legal and political problems that plague the more than 500 reservations in North America.
The use of eminent domain to condemn property for pipelines has become an increasingly controversial practice. Critics claim that it undermines private property rights and causes environmental damage. Defenders argue it is essential to enable effective exploitation of the nation's energy resources. In recent months, Georgia and South Carolina have passed new legislation limiting pipeline condemnations, an effort backed by a coalition of conservative property rights advocates and left of center environmentalists. Similar reforms have been proposed in many other states. This forum examined the growing controversy over pipeline takings.