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Libertas: Public Land Mangement and the Battle Over Bears Ears: Assignment: The Antiquities Act

CSPAN: Washington Journal

Antiquities Act of 1906


Your assignment is broken into four parts. Each section will be used to help you evaluate whether or not Congress granted the executive power to rescind or revoke a national monument which was created by a previous administration. President Trump was the first president to rescind/revoke a national monument by cutting Bear Ears to under 90% of its original protected acreage.The legal battle over Bears Ears will be settled in the courts to determine whether or not Congress granted executive power to rescind or revoke a national monument which had been established by a previous administration. The legal battle could alter the course of American land conservation, putting dozens of other monuments at possibly being altered or revoked by future administrations. This case will most likely be determined by the Supreme Court.

You will complete a four part exercise and build an augment for or against the case of President Trump's application of the Antiquities Act of 1906 in dramatically modifying national monuments.

You will analyze the Antiquities Act of 1906 by focusing on Section 2. In your own words, explain the authorized powers of the Antiquities Act.

Sec. 2. That the President of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments, and may reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected: Provided, That when such objects are situated upon a tract covered by a bona fied [sic] unperfected claim or held in private ownership, the tract, or so much thereof as may be necessary for the proper care and management of the object, may be relinquished to the Government, and the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to accept the relinquishment of such tracts in behalf of the Government of the United States.

Review of the Process:
Next, you will watch a clip from C-SPAN and answer the following questions. (see side column)

      a. Explain the purpose of the 1906 Antiquities Act.
      b. Can a sitting president rescind a former president's monument designation?
      c. How did the federal government acquire this land?
      d. Who in the federal government operates these lands?
      e. Who manages tribal groups' lands?

Presidential Proclamations:
Read the proclamations from President Obama and President Trump. Make a Venn Diagram depicting how the presidents differ/agree in their viewpoints concerning Bears Ears and its protection as a national monument?

Legal Debate:
Lastly, you will justify whether or not Bears Ears was legally created under President Obama. You will also justify whether or not President Trump was in violation of the Antiquities Act when Bears Ears was rescinded/reduced by establishing the Indian Creek and Shash Jaa units. Fully justify your case based on textual evidence gathered.