This comparison is timely because Victor Iverson, Mike’s natural resources adviser, wants to ride Mike’s coattails into the Washington County Commission.
Rex said, “Neither the text of the Constitution nor its history provides the answer to many practical questions that arise every day.” That lack of detail was intentional. The Framers preferred a process of judicial review to determine how the text applies to present-day needs. Mike denies intentional ambiguity, derides the Supreme Court for failing to see the Constitution’s clear meaning, and claims to know precisely what the Founders did not specify. Rex said of most politicians, “They do not declare what they believe the Constitution means, but what they insist it says, giving every appearance that they are the sole heirs of James Madison’s wisdom.”
Justices praised Rex Lee for his integrity, straight talk and quality of legal arguments. Mike Lee is better known for his devotion to partisan political ideology than for academic rigor and legal precedents.
Rex also knew that the Constitution trumps state laws (Article VI, clause 2), while Mike claims a state can nullify federal law. The theory of “Nullification” led to the Civil War. It is still popular among right-wing extremists but discredited by mainstream judicial scholars.
How do these examples apply to Victor Iverson? As the senator’s public land adviser, he probably drafted Mike’s recent talk that supported Utah’s claim to more federal land. Whether in ignorance or driven by ideology, the talk contorts and misquotes key parts of the Constitution. It would earn an F in a history or law school class and will not convince Congress or a federal court.
In typical anti-fed style, the talk misquotes Article I, Sec. 8, clause 17, which allows the federal government (with state approval) to buy state land for military facilities, and ignores Article IV, Sec. 3, clause 2, which gives Congress control over all public land not deeded to a state. He also misquotes other laws while building a claim that the federal government promised, or is required, to transfer more of the public land not already granted at statehood. That promise or requirement is created out of whole cloth, manufactured by supporters of states’ rights ideology.
Quote Article IV, Sec. 3 to a states’ rights advocate and watch him squirm, stutter and change the subject. Yet its text is the ax that every court has and will continue to use to cut down the mythical trees created by Utah’s legislature and other extremists in their effort to claim land retained by the feds at statehood.
We are not well served by electing advocates of discredited legal theories as county commissioners.
Email Raymond Kuehne of St. George at email@example.com.