Monday, July 30, 2018

Trump's attorneys defend Obama's expansion of a national monument

A dispute over acts of Congress in 1906 and 1937 has put the Trump administration in court — and into the unusual position of supporting a proclamation by former President Barack Obama. Contrary to President Donald Trump’s numerous efforts to shred Obama’s legacy, U.S. Justice Department lawyers are in Obama’s corner as they defend his expansion of a national monument in Oregon. That puts the Trump administration in direct opposition with timber interests that Trump vowed to defend in a May 2016 campaign speech in Eugene, 110 miles south of Portland. A federal judge is being asked to consider limits of power among all three government branches. For the Trump administration, the case is about protecting the power of the president of the United States, even if it was Obama who exercised his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 that allows a president to declare a national monument. During his last week in office, Obama nearly doubled the size of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in heavily forested southern Oregon, to more than 150 square miles. Commercial timber harvesting is prohibited in the monument except for ecological restoration, so logging companies and local governments were deprived of revenue from timber that was suddenly placed out of their reach.“I was worried that the timber industry and DOJ would come to an agreement that would not be good for the monument,” said Susan Jane Brown, an attorney for environmental groups. Instead, after a lengthy pause in the court proceedings, Justice Department attorneys in June asked the judge handling both lawsuits to rule in the government’s favor without trial. Cases challenging presidential authority under the Antiquities Act usually fail, said Lawson Fite, the forest council’s general counsel. But he said this one is different because of the statute Congress passed in 1937. “Our case is about whether the president has the authority to unilaterally disregard an act of Congress,” Fite said in an email. Fite says history backs his side, citing a 1940 letter from the Interior Department’s head lawyer under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In it, solicitor Nathan Margold concluded Roosevelt could not expand another national monument into land designated by Congress for other purposes...MORE

Why do we elect Presidents? So they can go to court and defend the actions of previous Presidents?

I'll give Trump credit. He has reversed the position of the Obama administration several times before the Supreme Court and some lower courts. But why not on this one? If Obama abused his authority in this case, which I believe he did, the only reason to defend it is so Trump and future presidents can also abuse their authority under the Antiquities Act.

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