President Donald Trump will visit Utah Monday reportedly to slash the state’s most recent national monuments. And more than 2,000 citizens are expected to rally Saturday, 1 p.m. at the Utah Capitol to protest Trump and the proposed reductions.
The map of proposed changes leaked shows the president would reduce the 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante monument to under 1 million acres and split the remaining acreage into three new monuments — Grand Staircase National Monument, Kaiparowits National Monument and Escalante Canyons National Monument.
Bears Ears National Monument now
Worse, Trump would cut 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument, created by President Barrack Obama, and the 200,000 acres would become placed in two new smaller entities, the Indian Creek National Monument and the Shash Jaa National Monument.
But Democratic lawmakers, Native American leaders and many Utahns argue that a succeding president has no legal authority to revoke a previous president’s monuments or even make huge boundary changes. Only Congress can do that.
In a recent interview with Salt Lake magazine, John Ruple of the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, said: “No president has tried to eliminate a national monument, and President Trump’s power to do so is suspect at best. When a president proclaims a national monument, the president is not exercising his inherent authority, but rather, he is using powers granted to Congress in the U.S. Constitution and then delegated by Congress to the president via the Antiquities Act.” Hear the podcast here.
“They are in totally uncharted territory,” New Mexico Democratic Sen. Tom Udall, told the L.A. Times. “They don’t have any authority to do this. There is no authority under the Antiquities Act for anyone to modify, eliminate or reduce national monuments nor delegate that authority to anyone other than the U.S. Congress. This interpretation was supported by a 1938 opinion by Atty. Gen. Homer Cummings. This 80-year-old opinion has stood the test of time. No president has ever attempted to revoke a national monument.