I had started a post last week, during the blockade protests. It was, to be pleasant about it, vitriolic and damning. I was, and still am, highly irate about the ongoing issue.
If federal property is acquired by fiat and supported by taxpayer funds, do the taxpayers have legal recourse to access, use, or otherwise benefit from those properties?
First, the federal conclave in Washington, DC, was established around the late 1700’s. the spaces were allocated for the running of the government. Makes sense. All the states agree to share the (financial) burden.
Through the years, the country and the government bureaucracy grew. The government created monuments in the Capitol. The management of the sites fell under different agencies.
Then, the Antiquities Act of 1906, officially An Act for the Preservation of American Antiquities (16 USC 431–433), came into play. By design, it was to protect nature preserves. Over the next one hundred years, it has been used to centralize management of national treasures under the Department of the Interior.
Under the auspices of the act, the president has almost unlimited authority to designate sites, without congressional approval, as protected. What is not clear, is any mention of executive branch management, after the designation. In other words, the Dept. of Interior and its subsidiary, the National Parks Service, are responsible for operations and management.
Since the Dept. of Interior is part of the executive branch, and they receive instruction from the president, it makes sense that there was a verbal directive from on high, to shutter the national monuments. But, was it legal?
I’ve looked over 16 USC (not every part – I’m sure the section on Antarctic mineral preservation doesn’t apply to Washington), and I haven’t seen any paragraph that dictates closing access to open-air monuments. I do get the rationale to close museums and the like, even if they’re staffed by volunteers. But to block war memorials? Nature parks?
To quote Supreme Court Justice Stewart, “I know pornography when I see it” – I would change it to say, ‘I know what’s obscene when I see it’. Personally, I see this current administration (all sides, executive, legislative, and even judicial) as obscene. The only comfort I have, is a claim that I didn’t vote for these bums.
The current rules are not clear on ‘ownership’ of properties intended for the use of the general public. And the ‘rules’ that helped orchestrate the blockade event appear to be non-existent. So, how do we, the public, fix this?