From the Sierra Club: Interior Secretary Zinke Says He Will Shrink Some National Monuments
http://sierraclub.org/sierra/interior-s ... -monuments
Even as they wait the final details of Zinke’s recommendations, national and regional conservation groups are preparing to file lawsuits to challenge the impending monument downsizings, which they say are unconstitutional. Legal scholars who have studied the Antiquities Act—the 1906 law that gives the president the authority to establish national monuments—are largely in agreement that the Trump administration will have a difficult time defending in court any substantial monument reductions.
“The argument that I have made is that Trump does not have the authority to change these things,” Mark Squillace, a professor at the University of Colorado School of Law who has written about the Antiquities Act, told Sierra. “The Antiquities Act is a delegation of power from Congress to the presidency. . . . Under the Antiquities Act, they [Congress] gave the president power to protect lands under the law. It doesn’t say anything about reducing or revoking monument designations.”
Squillace said it is likely that lawsuits challenging any monument reductions will be filed in the U.S. federal district courts where the monuments are located, and that—no matter what the district courts first rule—appeals are likely. “So we are in for a couple of years of litigation over these things, and there is a chance that it could end up at the Supreme Court as well.”
While conservationists express cautious optimism that they will eventually prevail in court—as well as in the court of public opinion, since an estimated 99 percent of the 2.8 million public comments received during Zinke’s review expressed support for maintaining the national monuments as is—they are frustrated at how the Trump-Zinke assault on monuments has distracted from the long-term goals of protecting additional lands and ecologically restoring landscapes that have long enjoyed legal protections.