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In Dismantling Monuments, Professor Richard H. Seamon defends President Donald Trump’s recent proclamations modifying the boundaries of two national monuments, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears, that Presidents Clinton and Obama each designated at the ends of their Administrations. Professor Seamon is not alone in making these arguments, as I am not alone in saying that Professor Seamon’s arguments, while well-intentioned, are wrong. He exaggerates the persuasive power of congressional silence. He elevates the importance of the statute’s original intent. Professor Seamon and I read the text and legislative history of the Antiquities Act differently—he sees unlimited presidential power, I see limits. But rather than engaging in hand-to-hand combat with Professor Seamon over who is right with respect to the specific arguments we each make, I think it may be more useful, certainly more interesting, to broaden the discussion to include: (1) the importance over time of an Act’s original intent; (2) the correct role of the Take Care Clause in the debate we are having; (3) the use of the interpretive canon of textual ambiguity to resolve our differences; and (4) the impact of his arguments on the separation of powers doctrine.

Publication Citation

Florida Law Review Forum, Vol. 70, 51-60.