Excellent piece about the Bundy ranch by Jeff Head, posted here:
I've known Jeff for years. He is a good guy.
He has several serious errors in his piece.
I'll just point out a couple:
The fact is, there is nothing in the constitution that allows for this. Outside of military bases or preserves, the Federal government has no power to own and control state lands once they become a part of a state. otherwise, they would remain territorial.
That's not correct.
(I copied and pasted this into my notes on this issue and forgot who the original author was... whoever you were, thanks)
Article IV, section 3, cl. 2 of the Constitution provides:
"The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular state.
That provision establishes that the United States government as such can indeed own property, including territory, in its own right. It also necessarily covers more ground than Art. I, sec. 8, cl. 17. This has to be the case because otherwise Art. IV, sec. 3, cl. 2 would be meaningless because it wouldn't do anything that wasn't already done by Art. I, sec. 8, cl. 17.
In addition (this is my own work now), one has to believe that the people who had the best working knowledge of the original intent of the Constitution, must have been the people who drafted, debated and ratified the document. Those very same people turned over ownership of more than 236,000,000 acres of land to the United States. If the United States Constitution did not allow the United States to own land beyond that needed for military bases and preserves, why would the Founders give ownership of such a vast area to the United States to dispose of as t saw fit?
Jeff's premise is absolutely wrong.
One more thing...
The State of Nevada wrote the Disclaimer Clause into their Constitution. As a Federalist and strict believer in the power of each States to craft its own Constitution, I must respect the fact that the drafters of the Nevada Constitution opted to write that clause in.
Just the same, beginning in 1933-1934, during the Roosevelt administration, the Federal government (who at the time, like the rest of the country, was in need of operating funds), decided to cause ranchers in these western states to pay a lease to the Federal government for the use of that land as an avenue to increase revenues.
The Taylor Grazing Act was drafted in order to make sense of the chaos in the Western open ranges between sheepmen and cattlemen, and to ensure that they who arrived first didn't have a better chance of finding suitable grazing land than those who came later. It wasn't about raising revenues. Had that been tha case, the United States could have easily sold lands to private firms and investors (the Bundy clan included) and charged property taxes at a much higher rate than the fees paid for grazing.