Every US state has a motto. Some are interesting, like “Live Free of Die,” in New Hampshire, and some are sadly truthful, like, “Our Government is Vampiric” in Massachusetts. Just kidding. It’s more along the lines of “We’ll Tax You to Death,” or something like that. Anyway, some, like the motto for the 49th state, Alaska, are very upbeat and offer a sense of adventure. In Alaska, politicians tell us to look, “North, to The Future.”
But, a shocking move by the federal government might inspire Alaskans to change their motto to, “Our Land Is Being Stolen By The Feds!”
The excellent writers at the Tenth Amendment Center have recently reported a huge story that is getting very little pop media coverage: the federal government has just seized 100 million acres of Alaskan land, a tract equal in size to the state of New Mexico.
And, supposedly-conservative Alaskan Governor Bill Walker isn’t doing a thing about it.
The federal takeover has come in three phases, the most recent being a robbery by US Fish and Wildlife Service Bureaucrats on August 3 of 77 million acres of Alaskan land from Alaskan government control.
As Suzanne Downing wrote for Must Read Alaska:
“The State remained silent as it yielded the sovereignty it was guaranteed at Statehood to federal control… By taking management of fish and wildlife away from the State, the federal government broke another of its Statehood Act promises, and rural Alaskans lost even more access to subsistence.”
Prior to the US Fish and Wildlife seizure, the Bureau of Land Management seized over a million acres in July, and about a month prior to that, the US Parks Service stole 20 million.
But, like a mesmerized victim of a succubus or incubus, Governor Walker did not stand up for his citizens, did not stand up for the concept of federalism, did not stand up for the US Constitution, and did not stand up for federal and state agreements already extant.
The most superficial of those is the statutory level, which, of course, is always trumped by the constitutional rules, but let’s just play Devil’s Advocate for the moment and only look at the surface.
Even on this surface level, the Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act (ANILCA) of 1980 set up specific areas of wildlife refuge that would be handled by the feds and specific areas that would be managed by Alaska. These lands were to be managed by Alaska.
Then, there is The Antiquities Act of 1906 which supposedly created a “power” for the President to establish national parks/monuments - it did not give bureaus within the executive branch this magic power.
But, of course, the ANLICA of 1980 and the absurd Antiquities Act of 1906 are both patently unconstitutional. No branch of the federal government is granted the superhuman ability to seize state land to create federal parks, monuments, or “protected lands” or anything of the kind, and as the astute Ms. Downing noted, territories are supposed to be free of federal land control when they become states.
The pertinent section, Clause Three, in Article Four, of the Constitution reads:
“New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.
“The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.”
Note that the Congress can control and make rules for Territories and property belonging to the United States, but once a state enters the Union, it does so with the full privileges of other states, and ceding land to the federal government is not something any state is compelled to do. In fact, even if state politicians wanted to cede land to the feds, the only way this could happen is to disconnect that parcel from the state and create a new territory out of it.
So the entire superficial set of rules that the feds just broke aren’t even pertinent, only the US Constitution is, and that doesn’t give the federal government this power at all.
So why is Governor Walker quieter than a church mouse on this?
Ms. Downing believes that he is silent because he wants to keep the feds happy in order to facilitate the gas pipeline he is trying to build, a pipeline that would traverse large areas of federal land that has already been stolen from Alaska.
Does this sound odd? Why is it that the Governor of a State I have never visited and which most people voting for their representatives in the US have not visited, must answer to people who don’t even live in his state? Why can’t the people of Alaska decide what they want to do within their state, and busybodies from outside stay away? When did this kind of nosy neighbor federal behavior become acceptable?
Better yet, why not let individuals in Alaska determine the fate of the land? Let all federal and state-run lands be sold to private interests? If the government is supposed to represent the “will of the people,” then we need not worry. The peoples’ will can only be expressed when they are free to do so.
Instead, we get political maneuvering and more loss of sovereignty, while the real interests that people could show themselves are crushed.
Perhaps Governor Walker would like to change the motto of Alaska to one of his choosing. Perhaps he would like to simply use: “Alaska: The Stockholm Syndrome State.”