Presidents Lack the Authority to Abolish or Diminish National Monuments

18 Pages Posted: 15 May 2017 Last revised: 14 Jun 2017

Mark Stephen Squillace

University of Colorado Law School

Eric Biber

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Nicholas S. Bryner

Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, UCLA School of Law

Sean B. Hecht

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Date Written: 2017

Abstract

By any measure, the Antiquities Act of 1906 has a remarkable legacy. Under the Act, 16 presidents have proclaimed 157 national monuments, protecting a diverse range of historic, archaeological, cultural, and geologic resources. Many of these monuments, including such iconic places as the Grand Canyon, Zion, Olympic, and Acadia, have been expanded and redesignated by Congress as national parks.

While the designation of national monuments is often celebrated, it has on occasion sparked local opposition, and led to calls for a President to abolish or shrink a national monument that was proclaimed by a predecessor. This article examines the Antiquities Act and other statutes, concluding that the President lacks the legal authority to abolish or diminish national monuments. Instead, these powers are reserved to Congress.

Keywords: National Monuments, Antiquities Act, FLPMA, Presidential Authority, Separation of Powers, Federal Public Lands

Suggested Citation

Squillace, Mark Stephen and Biber, Eric and Bryner, Nicholas S. and Hecht, Sean B., Presidents Lack the Authority to Abolish or Diminish National Monuments (2017). Virginia Law Review, Vol. 103, pp. 55-71, 2017; UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 17-16; UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2967807

Mark Stephen Squillace

University of Colorado Law School ( email )

401 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

Eric Biber

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

Nicholas Stevens Bryner

Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, UCLA School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

Sean B. Hecht (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

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