One Supreme Court Justice is standing up for States’ rights in a way that few others are willing to do.
Justice Clarence Thomas criticized a decision made by the US Supreme Court that would give the Federal government the power to seize land whenever they want, worrying that they are “giving Congress the power to destroy the States’ territorial integrity,” according to The Washington Examiner.
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a case involving the Indian Commerce Clause and whether the Constitution allows Congress the ability to infringe, reduce or alter the territorial integrity of individual States without getting a State’s consent first.
This decision to reject debating the case, Upstate Citizens For Equality, Inc. v. US, has created a firestorm among various groups. In the past, petitioners from New York disputed the Federal government’s 2008 decision to turn over 13,000 acres of land to the Oneida Nation of New York, who are descendants of the first nation’s Iroquois tribe. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the Indian Commerce Clause allowed the Federal government to take land away from the States.
The Supreme Court denied the opportunity to review the decision almost nine years ago as well.
Justice Thomas condemned this decision by his colleagues, saying: “Congress would reduce a State to near nonexistence by taking all land within its borders and declaring it sovereign Indian territory.”
“It is highly implausible that the Founders understood the Indian Commerce Clause, which was virtually unopposed at the founding, as giving Congress the power to destroy the States’ territorial integrity,” Mr. Thomas wrote in his dissent. “Understood this way, the Indian Commerce Clause does not appear to give Congress the power to authorize the taking of land into trust under the IRA.”
He added that these land grabs were completely outside the scope of the Constitution and what was originally intended for this legislation. The Indian Commerce Clause, as intended by the Founding Fathers, was not meant to facilitate the stripping of a sovereign State’s power and land “for the purpose of providing land for Indians.”
“When our precedents permit such an absurd result, something has gone seriously awry. It is time to fix our error. We should have granted certiorari to reexamine our Indian Commerce Clause precedents, instead of standing idly by as Congress, the Executive, and the lower courts stray further and further from the Constitution,” he wrote.
Nor is this the first time Justice Thomas spoke in opposition to a case involving lower courts that are straying from the Constitution. According to The Washington Post, Justice Thomas dissented earlier this year in another case involving the Foreign Commerce Clause, which gives Congress the power to “regulate Commerce with foreign nations.”
Justice Clarence Thomas criticized a Supreme Court decision that allows the Federal government to seize land for any reason. Does the Federal government have too much power?
In his dissent, Justice Thomas argued that the clause has given Congress unreasonable power and that the Supreme Court should have taken on the case to stop a clear example of federal overreach and “reaffirm that our Federal government is one of limited and enumerated powers, not the world’s lawgiver.”
Judge Thomas’ message is a dire warning of how much the federal government has grown over the years, morphing into an entity with far greater powers than the founding fathers ever intended it to be in the first place.