“You all just got a lot richer,” said to Mar-A-Lago friends!
By restricting space for independent media outlets, policing the Internet, sponsoring fake think tanks, and relying on state-owned or state-friendly media assets, autocrats keep dissenting views out of the news and manipulate political discourse.
Attorney General Homer Cummings advised President Franklin Roosevelt in 1938 of the same. The attorney general’s opinion underscored that the Antiquities Act contained no clear textual presidential authority to “abolish” national monuments. Whether right or wrong, that nearly 80-year-old opinion has never been repudiated by any court, succeeding attorneys general or Congress. When Congress amended the Act in 1950 to forbid presidential designations to expand or establish national monuments in Wyoming without express congressional authorization, it did not overturn the Cummings opinion. And according to the Supreme Court’s “acquiescence rule,” if Congress does not overturn a judicial or administrative interpretation of a statute, it probably acquiesces in it.
Finally, interpreting the Antiquities Act according to its plain language to prohibit presidential revocations of national monument designations of predecessors raises no separation of powers concerns The prohibition does not interfere with the executive branch responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed or otherwise. Indeed, it does not interfere with any executive branch function whatsoever. And only “where the WHOLE power of one department is exercised by the same hands which possess the WHOLE power of another department” is a separation of powers issue raised, as James Madison elaborated in Federalist 47.
If President Donald Trump or any successor desires the authority to revoke national monument designations, they should urge Congress to amend the Antiquities Act accordingly. They should not torture the plain language of the Act to advance a political agenda at the expense of regular constitutional order. Our salvation lies in process, not results.
The Senate and House tax bills will have to be reconciled, but it’s now perfectly possible that President Trump will get to sign the final legislation before Christmas. If that happens, the process of getting there will have been a travesty of the legislative process.
When a Republican Administration last conducted a thorough overhaul of the tax code, in 1986, there were more than a dozen hearings in Congress, and the process took more than six months. This time, there have been no public hearings, and the measure is being rushed through in a few weeks, with virtually no transparency. This isn’t “regular order”—the term McCain used when he voted no in the health-care vote. It is brazen power politics carried out by a Republican Party desperate for a legislative victory.