Last week President Donald Trump visited Utah to announce he was slashing millions of acres from two national monuments established by Presidents Obama and Clinton. In response, tribal and environmental groups filed lawsuits to block the changes.
Our "Political Insiders" are sharply divided along partisan lines on who will prevail in those legal actions.
President Trump reduced the Bears Ears National Monument by more than 1.1 million acres. He also downsized the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 800,000 acres and split it into three smaller monuments.
The Republicans on our panel say that President Trump's changes will withstand any legal challenge, while the Democrats who answered our survey disagreed.
- 93% of the Republicans who responded said Trump's changes would prevail in court.
- 87% of the Democrats who answered our question said that the original monument boundaries would win the court battle.
Our readers were more closely divided, with 55% saying the original monument boundaries would be enforced and 45% saying President Trump's alterations would be the outcome.
Selected anonymous comments:
The Antiquities Act needs to be reigned in, but as the act is written, President Clinton and President Obama followed it to the letter. President Trump simply didn't have the authority to do what he did. Lawyers are gonna make some good cash off this before the changes are reversed.
It will be challenged, but the change will stand.
I think that the lawsuits will be settled with something in between what the 45 and 44 did.
At least this President made a Federal decision over lands in Utah while he stood in Utah and not another state (Clinton in AZ) or on the internet like Obama.
It's going to be a royal mess for years. In the end, I think what will emerge will be closer to the original boundaries than those that the President has imposed.
The antiquities act violates the US Constitution anyway.
I think there is overreach here and undermines the actions of presidencies dating back to Theodore Roosevelt. I can't imagine the court is willing to open up for legislative review the actions and decisions of a century of presidents. In effect, this is the precedent Trump's actions would establish. I'm sure the courts and future administrations don't want to open for review to every local jurisdiction that piece of a monument they prefer they have unfettered access to use. What a can of worms that would be!
The president giveth, and the president taketh away, long live the president.
Utah will become a ping-pong ball for future presidents to change the status of our land. Re-designate. Then un-designate. Then re-designate again. Isn't it nice to be seen as a meaningless political chess pawn?
Very unfortunate. Once these beautiful places are open to development, we can never get them back.
I hope for the sake of the economy of Southern Utah that the monuments stand!
Lots of words will be written and dollars expended protesting this action, but at the end of the day, a court will recognize the President's power under the Act is fairly absolute. Ultimately, Congress will revise the Act and impose some reasonable limits.
When are we going to stop making decisions because we don't respect those who made them? How will you feel when your decisions are removed?
The legal fights will take years. In the meantime, Congress needs to ratify the new boundaries so that courts aren't making the final decision.
I doubt the original intent behind the Antiquities Act was to create a ping-pong game of endless boundary adjustments. But this all comes down to interpretation, so we'll see what 5/9ths of SCOTUS thinks.
Unfortunately, greed will win, and those majestic monuments will be destroyed because of the all-mighty dollar. This is all very sad indeed.
Trump ignored the will of the tribes who have inhabited the area for centuries. It was an arrogant move that will not stand.
Trump's changes to the Monuments were illegal per the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and Antiquities Act. The boundaries of GSENM were solidified by Congress, and Utah even swapped land to create it.
I think it is 50/50 and depends on the arguments made on both sides. I hope that the original monument boundaries stand, but I don't have faith that they will.
This is shortsighted and puts some of America's greatest wilderness at risk for... for what? The chance to make a quick buck while scarring landscapes forever? To close off land to "outsiders"? To let ATVs run wild and destroy fragile ecosystems? Some money might be made, but the damage will outweigh the profits that will go to a select few.
Bears Ears is a sacred landscape with more than 100,000 Native American cultural sites. The proposal to establish it was developed by a coalition of five sovereign Tribal Governments (Hopi, Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, Ute, and Zuni). The Bears Ears Commission representing these five tribes is proud to steward the Bears Ears National Monument. Bears Ears is also home to scientific wonders, irreplaceable wildlife and biodiversity and recreational opportunities that form a vital base to the local economy. That is why Utahns and Americans across the country like me have agreed it should be protected for future generations! Please leave Bears Ears and ALL monuments alone as is!
Trump has violated all due process to bring about a predetermined outcome that transfers public assets to his crony donors against the wishes of the majority of citizens. It is illegal. It is vile. It is a betrayal of America.
I have donated and will continue to donate to the groups that are filing the lawsuits. Mr. Trump's actions are unlawful and will be overturned in court.
The Tribes and Obama administration along with Clinton administration did their homework. The Trump administration is shooting from the hip.
Trump is a populist; he rarely takes the time to find out if something is legal or constitutional.
You can't decide to have all these monuments stripped away just because a Democratic president established them, and at the same time demand that all the Confederate monuments remain in place because it's "history" even though they were put in place decades after the war.
We only get one shot at not ruining this land. Hopefully, we don't mess it up.
These national parks and monuments lands belong to the American people and future generations. As wilderness, raw beauty, environmental preservation, science, tourist, etc. Not for corporations who lobby to gain control to rape the land and resources for profit.
The arguments in the Virginia Law Review seem airtight. A President can create Monuments, but only Congress can change/eliminate them.
This is an atrocity. I was born and raised in southern Utah. When the local tribes advocate for a monument and Washington D.C. comes to my state to dismantle it; that is government overreach.
I am hoping the original monument boundaries stand. Trump's changes are wrong, disgraceful, and are a threat to our environment and tourism.
Lawsuits, in this case, will probably go on for years. I can't speculate on the outcome. Pres. Trumps changes may stand, not because of the environment itself, but because his process involved discussion with more of the stakeholders than did the previous decision, agree or disagree with what was done. I sincerely believe in protecting the environment, but the process by which public lands are designated to one thing or another needs to be standardized, as to not blindside anyone in the process. All of the stakeholders need to be involved in the decision and unanimity should be arrived at before proceeding forward.
It should be held up in court since monument boundaries have been changed about a dozen times in the past by presidents of both parties. One time, a monument was cut in size by nearly half during WW2.
The original monument designation was utterly illegal. It clearly violated the intent of the Antiquities Act, and I'm glad local Utahns rose up and demanded change!
If it was constitutional for two of the worst presidents in our nation's history to take our lands away from us with the stroke of a pen, then it only stands to reason that it just as constitutional for another president to reverse this wrong through the stroke of a pen.
The monuments should have been completely undone, but Trump was willing to compromise where Obama was not.
Obama never went through legal means to make the monument. It was a comply land grab from day one.
President Trump listened to the voice of local people. Filing lawsuits are wasteful, and the monuments are still massive in size. The antiquities act needs to be revised.
There are still at least 11 layers of law protecting the area. Nobody has been shut out. Same agencies are managing it. Simply less bureaucracy.
It makes no sense how a President can declare a monument with a swipe of a pen. What's the difference in changing it with another swipe of the pen? This has been going on for ages. There have been several changes to monuments by past presidents. Most of the lawsuits are by those who don't even have a dog in the fight. Sad.
Trump just corrected an illegal act by Mr. Obama.
I am Navajo, and I don't want the federal government taking back the land. That is completely what happened when they forced us to live here on the reservations. Those who are resisting and saying they are Native Activist, need to understand, it is better with the locals who managed the land on their own the past decades before this was an issue.
They will waste millions of dollars that could be used to improve schools and pave roads on the reservation.
I hope any Judge will see how clear the abuse was. Obama overstepped the authority of the act by not limiting the designation to the smallest area compatible, the vague and broad language used to limit the public's ability to have input on land use is damaging to the livelihoods of local communities.
Lawsuits can be tied up for years on end and overturned by higher courts. Nothing will come from the lawsuits.