Constitutional Limits on Federal Ownership of Land

Just what are the Constitutional limits on federal ownership of land?  Are they defined in the Constitution, federal law, or both?

Many Americans, including politicians in our government, are under the distinct impression that our Federal Government can use eminent domain to lay claim to whatever land and natural resources they see fit.  After all, the federal government runs the country, right?

Wrong.  That is not what the Constitution says.  In fact, it says something

quite different.

We the People run our country.  In fact, our Constitution, “the supreme Law of the Land” (Article VI), says so in its opening words, the Preamble:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a m

Founding Documents
We The People – US Constitution

ore perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Each and every U.S. citizen is one of “We the People.”  We the People run our country, hence the name of this website.  This fact is thoroughly woven throughout our Constitution and its Amendments, particularly the first ten Amendments we know as the Bill of Rights, and for very good reason.

Before our Constitution was signed 1787, and even before our Declaration of Independence eleven years earlier in 1776, certain factions in our government wanted to create a strong, authoritarian government.  The problem is that such a government was reminiscent of the  Fortunately, calmer heads prevailed, knowing full well that such governments strongly tend to creep towards dictatorship.  They also rejected democracy, a democratic form of government, knowing full well that when Rome allowed itself to be transformed from a republic into a democracy, its end soon followed, eventually collapsing under its own excesses.

A republic is defined as a government under the rule of law.  Because it’s principles are well-defined and codified, it tends to be far more stable than a democracy, whose principles can be changed by a single vote.  Thus, a republic works quite well.  Democracies, however, are not stable, as they’re determined by the will of the people.  When those people have either been deceived or have merely grown ignorant, the democracy is easily weakened, making it ripe for being overrun by another country, or worse, being rendering so dysfunctional that it collapses under the weight of its own excesses, inefficiencies, and corruption.  Sadly, the United States under Democrat control reflects this tendency and has become a clear and present danger to our nation, as clearly evidenced not only by our current and exorbitant level of debt, but also by the abject failure of most cities run by strongly Democrat governments.

Because our Founding Fathers were such keen students of history, knowing full well what works and what doesn’t, when these factions attempted to create a strong central government whereby states ceded most, if not all of their rights, the calmer heads crafted, “by the Unanimous Consent of the States present,” a “Constitution for the United States of America” that specifically required ratification “by three-fourths of the several states,” the same as for all Amendments (Article V).  Rhode Island, distrustful of a powerful federal government, was the only one of the thirteen original states to refuse to send delegates to the Constitutional Convention.  Thus, with only twelve states present, three-quarters of which equal nine, they including the following Article VII’s opening clause:  “The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.”

Furthermore, our “country” isn’t like France, Japan, or Egypt.  By law, specifically our U.S. Constitution, the United States of America is a collection of independent states (countries) organized into a union.  The term “state” and “country” are synonymous, hence the universal terms “heads of state” and our “State Department,” both of which deal with other countries.  In fact, the word “country” is not found anywhere in our Constitution, whereas the word “state” is found 133 times.”

Much like the European Union, each U.S. state remains its own sovereign entity, have ceded only certain specific and quite limited powers to the union as a whole, under the federal government, in order to normalize activities and relations between the states, which to this day retained the vast majority of powers under each state government.

Specifically, the federal government exists solely for the purposes as given in the Preamble.

If the federal government were allowed to change its powers merely by passing a single bill, especially in a way that modified the limits established by our Constitution, then such an action would not only be inconsistent with our Constitution, but would disenfranchise our voters.  Fortunately, that’s not how our government works, or at least is supposed to work.

So…  Where does that leave us with respect to the federal ownership of land?

Article I, Section 8 gives Congress many powers.  However, when it comes to the purchasing and ownership of land, it limits the federal government’s powers quite specifically:

“To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings…”

Put simply:

  1.  Congress may exercise exclusive legislation over the District.
  2. The District is not to exceed exceed ten miles square.
  3. The District is to be formed by land ceded by particular states, as accepted by Congress, to become the seat of the U.S. government
  4. If Congress needs additional land, it may purchase places by the consent of the legislature of the state from which they’re being purchased
  5. The only reasons Congress may purchase such lands are for the erection of forts (Army bases), magazines (place where ammunition is stored), arsenals (place where firearms are stored), dock-yards (places where ships are stored aka “ports”), “and other needful buildings.”

NOTE:  The entire collection of Constitutionally-authorized Congressional purchases is limited to buildings and structures.

These limitations gave rise to the easy to remember moniker, “forts, ports, and ten miles square.”

While it is reasonable to extend this to Air Force bases and large ranges used for firing, bombing, and testing, Congress does not have any Federally Owned LandConstitutional authorization to buy land used for other purposes, particularly vast quantities of land as they own out west.  Furthermore, they have absolutely zero lawful authority (power) to “appropriate” (take without buying) land, as the Constitution specifically requires Congress to obtain land only if “purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be.”

Some people will argue that the next clause gives the federal government to expand their powers as they see fit, that doing so is in the best interests of our nation.  Again, WRONG.  Nor does the federal government have any authority to erode our rights.  The two Amendments which guarantee both of these precepts are found at the end of the Bill of Rights as stop-gap final limits on federal powers:

Amendment IX:  “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

In modern parlance, just because a right isn’t mentioned in the Constitution doesn’t mean it’s not a legitimate right.  Furthermore, no one – not Congress, the President, the Supreme Court, nor any business, organization, entity, man, woman, or child can lawfully either deny us those rights nor even “disparage” our retention of those rights.  Disparage means “to describe (someone or something) as unimportant, weak, bad; to degrade; to lower in rank or reputation; speak slightingly about.”  These are the rights of We the People!  They’d better not attempt to degrade them.

Amendment X:  “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Again, in today’s language, this simply means that all powers not specifically given to the federal government are not to be held by the federal government.  Unless the Constitution specifically prohibits the states holding a specific power, such as negotiating international treaties, then that power belong to the states (NOT the feds), or the people.

Put simply, the Federal Government of the United States of America has vastly overreached the Constitutional limits of their authority.  NO land is legitimately “their land” except the buildings and structures required for forts and ports, and the ten miles square required for the seat of the U.S. government.  All other lands in these United States belong to the States or to the People.  Sometime long ago federal politicians convinced themselves that it was OK to flagrantly ignore, if not extremely violate the U.S. Constitution, and for some unfathomable reason, the American People weren’t paying attention!

Well, people of America, you’d better start paying attention now, and remind each and every member of Congress — often, as in at least once weekly — that We the People are watching, and that those who fail or refuse to do their duty, irregardless of willfulness or ignorance, to FULLY “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” most certainly WILL be ejected from office with extreme prejudice, and replaced by one of us who actually knows and follows the United States Constitution.

Rights and Powers of The People Themselves

Our Founding Fathers fully understood the nature of our God-given inalienable rights:
 
– It’s why they wrote about them in our Declaration of Independence.
 
– It’s why they enumerated some of them in our United States Constitution
 
– It’s why they specifically secured several key rights and freedoms for us in our Bill of Rights.
 
– It’s why they specifically established the retention by the people of other rights not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, along with the reservation of powers not specifically mentioned in the Constitution to the states and people.
 
Specifically:
 
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” – Ninth Amendment
 
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” – Tenth Amendment
 
It’s why the courts have repeatedly (mostly) upheld our Constitutional rights, powers and freedoms, not as any sort of “favors” meted out by a “benevolent” or “indulgent” government, but as fundamental rights,powers and freedoms God Almighty fully intended to be held not by any government, but by the people themselves.

Travesty of Justice

This U.S. Justice System FAILURE is all too common throughout these United States:  A man takes a cell phone away from his 12-year-old daughter as punishment for her misuse of the device.  (Story)  The daughter’s mother (married to someone else) files a complaint of theft against the father.  The district attorney offers him a plea deal.  The father refuses.  A judge issues a warrant for the father’s arrest.  Cops arrest the father.  He demands a jury trial.  He wins.
WRONG — WRONG — WRONG!
This is NOT justice!!!  This man should never have been arrested in the first place.
Before anyone in the Justice System acts, they must first ensure compliance with the U.S. Constitution and State Law as demanded by their oath of office and expected by the citizens who pay their salaries.  They have a duty to themselves and the citizens they swore to “serve and protect” to NEVER act in a manner that runs afoul of “the supreme Law of the Land” or any lawfully derived state or federal law.
Thankfully, “Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Lisa Green ordered the jury to find Jackson not guilty, citing insufficient evidence to prove a theft charge.”
 
Unfortunately, “Although Jackson won the case and is allowed to keep the phone, he said he has had to separate himself from Steppe and his daughter because of this incident. ‘I can’t ever have a relationship with them again,’ he said.”
 
This wasn’t justice.  It was a travesty of justice.  The father was acting squarely within his right and responsibility as a parent.  Our Constitution specifically states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people” (Tenth Amendment, Bill of Rights).  Nowhere does either the Constitution or the Texas State Constitution give the state the power or authority to second-guess the parent under these circumstances.  Meanwhile, countless precedent established under case law substantiates parental authority over child ownership.  That’s why you never leave any significant sum of money to a child.  One or the other parent can take it.  Instead, you leave it in a trust, to which the child has limited and monitored access until they’re either eighteen or as otherwise specified in the trust.
As a result of this travesty of justice, the father and daughter are now as estranged as were the father and his ex-wife.  The father is out many thousands of dollars defending his rightful actions as a parent.
This comedy of errors could have been prevented at any stage:
 
1.  This error should have ended with the wife backing up her daughter’s father.
2. The wife’s current husband, himself a police officer, should have advised his wife that a parent taking something away from a child is both lawful, and in the case of misuse, morally right.
3. The Dallas County Judge should have REFUSED to issue a warrant for the man’s arrest for taking his daughter’s cell phone. That is not only his right, as a parent, to withhold any and all property from his child in response to inappropriate behavior by the child, but it is the responsibility of the parent to do so.  It doesn’t matter if that property is a cell phone or a car. Ownership is subject to parental consent.
 
4.  If the warrant for his arrest specified the cell phone, the responding officers should have refused to serve it, commensurate with their sworn duty to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.”  What kind of law enforcement officers do We the People want, anyway?  Those who “just follow orders” or those who know and respect the law, beginning with the most important source of all, our Constitution — “the supreme Law of the Land?”
 
5.  The judge heading up the jury trial should have looked into the case and tossed it for being groundless BEFORE it was brought to trial. That alone cost the man thousands of dollars in legal fees and very unnecessarily so.
 
This case is a prime example of what’s WRONG with our justice system today: NOBODY throughout the entire chain is doing their JOB, which is first and foremost to keep things at the lowest possible level. Instead, they allow everything to be elevated, costing INNOCENT PEOPLE thousands of dollars until they’re “cleared.”
I call that “organized crime.”  It’s a FAILURE of RESPONSIBILITY at all levels of the justice system: The cops, the lawyers, the judge who issued the warrant, the arresting officers, and the judge who let it go to trial.

BIG FAT FAIL

And We the People are the ones being screwed out of our hard-earned dollars yet again.
Each and every single individual involved in that chain of errors should be SUED TO KINGDOM COME. This is NOT what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the Constitution.  Our system of justice was NOT established to provide lofty incomes for those who ignore common sense while trampling on the Constitutional rights and freedoms of American citizens.
Yes, this is a fairly minor matter.  Yet it happens all the time, often with much poorer outcomes.  It happens all the time in cases involving far more significant sums of money, too.  The problem is that this is happening all the time, at all levels, and once you’re sucked into the system, even the most favorable outcome will cost you thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars.
Ladies and gentlemen, the system of justice as envisioned by our Founding Fathers was true, right, and just.  The system as it exists is a fantastically warped mockery designed to perpetuate and pad the system at the expense — rather than support — of We the People.

The Supreme Court is NOT the Final Arbiter

A friend recently stated “SCOTUS is the final arbitrator [sic] of whether it is correct or not. The checks and balances ends there.”

He was wrong.  Here’s my reply:

You’re usually right on target, so I’m really surprised you missed this one by a mile.

So, if you would, please tell me again what what We the People should do, “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends?” “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.”

Is it not “the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness?”

Our Founding Fathers considered this universal truth to be so supremely important that they had it preserved for all time in the minds and hearts of all Americans. They keep these words in our Nationals Archives. They had them reproduced in the American History books available to every American who ever attended public school, as well as the vast majority who attended private school, as well.

This has nothing to do with overthrowing the government. It has everything to do with preserving our government by reminding those who currently inhabit the seats created by our Constitution that they were elected to serve our government — “of the people, by the people, for the people” — at the pleasure of the people.

We the People are the final arbiter of whether the decisions made by the Supreme Court are correct or not. We always have been, in every nation, and long before our own Declaration of Independence was more than a single thought in someone’s mind.

The Declaration of Independence itself says precisely why this is so: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

No one is putting our government “on notice.” They put themselves on notice the moment they raised their right hand and took the same oath of office alongside every military, civil, and law-enforcement officer in our land: “I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

If they don’t believe they put themselves on notice, they weren’t paying attention. That’s the entire purpose of the oath of office.

Our Republic is a nation of laws, but preserving our nation requires people of honor and integrity occupying positions of public trust. All the laws in the world are rendered worthless when those in government refuse to follow them, or worse, attempt to replace just laws with ones that are unjust. When that happens, we edge closer to the same pit in which our Founding Fathers found themselves shortly before they declared our nation’s independence.

But not quite. We the People have another course of action we should always use first, and use often, one protected by our First Amendment: “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Even in this simple exercise of requesting Congress to pass or block legislation, and to approve or deny appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court, We the People are rights as the ultimate arbiters.

We the People are the final arbiters in our own governmental affairs. Not the Supreme Court. Not the President. Not Congress.

Us.