Response to Richard H. Seamon, Dismantling Monuments
Invited to respond to Dismantling Monuments, Professor Richard Seamon’s exploration of the legal controversies surrounding President Trump’s decision to dramatically reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah, I initially feared that I would have little to say. “Amen” adds little from a scholarly standpoint, and having written contemporaneously on the same topic, I knew that Professor Seamon had done a quite admirable job of presenting the legislative history of the Antiquities Act and related statutes, establishing that the large national monuments spanning millions of acres that we see today are well beyond the congressional expectations of 1906. Seamon also accurately notes that earlier presidents made significant reductions to monuments that their predecessors declared.
While the conclusions that I draw from my own study of the topic are more equivocal than Seamon’s pronouncement that President Trump was authorized to do what he did, I applaud him for thoroughly engaging the history surrounding the Act and its application over the past century. I will comment on some particular areas of disagreement with Seamon later, but I will initially focus on the surprising level of opposition that the mere suggestion of shrinking national monument boundaries provoked.