A federal court has ruled that former President Clinton did, in fact, have the authority to create national monuments in four Western states.
Blue Ribbon Coalition, an off-road vehicle users group, and the
Mountain States Legal Foundation had opposed the designation of six
monuments in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. National
monument designation limits motorized use as well as logging,
mining and energy development. In a lawsuit, the groups claimed
Clinton exceeded his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906,
and that the law could only be used to protect cultural artifacts,
not the lands themselves.
Interior Secretary Gale
Norton is former lead attorney at Mountain States, and the Bush
administration has threatened to dismantle and weaken monuments
(HCN, 4/23/01: Monuments caught in the crosshairs). Concerned that
the government would not defend the designations, environmental
groups intervened in the suit.
fears were confirmed when, in its defense of the case, the Bush
administration argued that the courts have no power to review
national monument designations - a claim that would have allowed
the president to shrink or do away with the national monuments
without any judicial review. "(The government) was trying to hit a
home run against the Antiquities Act," says Jim Angell, an
On October 18, the U.S.
Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., dismissed the challenge,
declaring, "At no point has Mountain States presented factual
allegations that would occasion further review of the president's