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Front Page » May 18, 2004 » Opinion » History tells of a states rights to regulate its land
Published 3,621 days ago

History tells of a states rights to regulate its land


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate community editor

July 4, 1776. Thirteen British colonies declared that they would no longer be subject to the " unwarrantable jurisdiction" of a monarchal government two thousand miles distant. They did not ask for independence nor was it granted. They declared it! And with a hunger that could only be stated by the sweet taste of independent self-government they prosecuted their revolution until the foreign despot "acknowledged' it. These States jealously guarded their sovereignty over the entirety of the soil within their borders: "The soil and sovereignty within their acknowledged limits were as much theirs at the declaration of independence as at this hour," said the U.S. Supreme Court in 1827.

July 16, 1894. The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled compacted with "the inhabitants of all that part of the area of the United States now constituting the Territory of Utah, as at present described' that they "may become the State of Utah" as provided by terms of this State enabling Act; and that the new State would be admitted into this more perfect Union "on an equal footing with the original States"; and that the public lands therein "shall be and remain subject to the disposition of the United States"; and that the laws of the Territory not inconsistent with this Act "shall be in force in said State" with no exception made for public lands remaining therein.

January 4, 1896. President Grover Cleveland "proclaimed' the new State of Utah admitted into this Union. The President did not grant statehood to the Utah Territory, he "acknowledged' it. The Salt Lake Tribune reports the exact moment, 10:03 am, when the President "was emancipating from territorial thralldom the thousands of inhabitants of the hills and vales of the new State."

Great rejoicing! Utah pioneers believe that just as the citizens of the original States jealously retained sovereignty and territorial rights over all of the land within their borders, so too would they now exercise sovereignty and territorial rights within their new State; their laws would be in force throughout their State; their courts would adjudicate those laws; officers of the law would be elected by and politically accountable to them. This would be liberty!; the freedom of self governance; the fruit born of sacrifice in revolution against monarchy.

June 17, 1976. Two hundred years from the Declaration of Independence. The U.S. Supreme Court declares that the Union of States possesses "complete" legislative jurisdiction "without limitation" over sixty-seven percent of the territory of the State of Utah; and that this governance is "analogous to the police power of the several states"; and that federal legislation upon these lands "overrides conflicting state laws" by virtue of national supremacy.

October 21, 1976. Congress declares that it will thereafter be "the policy of the United States" that this sixty-seven percent of the former Territory of Utah shall be and remain Territory of the Union two thousand miles distant.

February 2004. A United States District Court Judge declares that certain roads claimed by certain Utah counties under Utah law are not roads and that the State of Utah, through these counties, has no rights therein.

March 2, 2004. The Salt Lake Tribune editorializes that the Court's "sensible" decision "should make rural county officials stop and think before asserting their 'rights' by ignoring the law."

Pray tell. Ignoring which "law?" This case was decided upon the federal definition of "construction" and "highway." Why is this dispute not about the rights of the sovereign State of Utah pursuant to that solemn compact entered into in July 1894 whereby it was agreed that "all" of the Territory of Utah may become the State of Utah; and whereby the laws of the Territory were to become the laws "in said State"; and whereby the State was to be admitted into the Union of States "on an equalfooting with the original States?"

Is this not "unwarrantable jurisdiction?"


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