Utah law professors challenge President Trump’s right to rescind Bears Ears

Posted at 5:47 PM, May 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-25 20:05:22-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A growing list of law professors around the country are weighing in on a president's power under the Antiquities Act, including professors from the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah.

Eight professors from the school were among 71 law professors who signed a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. The letter outlined the argument that President Trump does not have the authority to rescind or reduce the size of national monuments.

John Ruple, Associate Professor and Stegner Fellow at the Quinney School, said the basis of their argument is constitutional: Article 4, Section 3 of the Constitution says only Congress can make decisions regarding public lands.

Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, Congress gave presidents the authority to protect land, but they didn't grant the authority to rescind the protection.

"Before the president can act with respect to our public lands, Congress has to delegate to the president that power to act," Ruple said.

Matt Anderson, a policy analyst with the Sutherland Institute's Coalition for Self Government in the West, disagrees with Ruple, saying what one president can do, another president can undo.

"Numerous presidents have undone the executive actions of previous ones," Anderson said. "Elections matter, and that's really what it comes down to."

The online public comment period for the Interior Secretary's National Monument review ends at midnight on May 25. If you would like to speak your mind, click here.