Comment: Tommy, Pretty Good Analysis But More Explanation is Needed

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Tommy, Pretty Good Analysis But More Explanation is Needed

The federal government acquired the territory that eventually evolved into many of the western United States including the State of Nevada. They bought the land by way of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo signed with Mexico in 1848 to end the Mexican-American War (see: http://loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/Guadalupe.html ).

The U.S. Constitution grants the president the power to make treaties with other nations. What is a treaty? It's nothing more than a legal contract between two or more foreign powers, where something is offered for something in exchange. The United States purchased the territory from Mexico in exchange for paying Mexico 15 million dollars.

This is one of three ways the constitution grants authority to the federal government to own land. The use of executive power to make treaties is the first part. The second part is to buy land sold to it by the States but for the strict purpose of erecting buildings in support of federal administration (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17). The third part is by claim of eminent domain via the Fifth Amendment.

In 1979 Nevada claimed by statute the land prohibited to its citizenry as a condition of statehood via the Nevada Enabling Act of 1864. In 1994 Nye County also claimed dominion over public lands within its jurisdiction based upon the Nevada State statute. The U.S. government brought suit in federal court claiming adverse legal interest and named the State of Nevada and Nye County as defendants (see: http://www.leagle.com/decision/19962028920FSupp1108_11870 ).

The issue was this; does the U.S. government retain title of the remaining public land not already ceded to it by the Nevada State legislative? The federal district court ruled in favor of the plaintiff (U.S. government) based on the following:

Within the Equal Footing Doctrine, the Supreme Court recognize that land submerged by navigable or tidal waters pass to the states as a circumstance of sovereignty (see: Pollard's Lessee v. Hagan, 44 U.S.) because it was considered in the public trust. In contrast, the court was unaware of any Supreme Court decision holding that the original thirteen states gained title to the dry lands as a public trust, that is, to hold in common for all people. In 1913, the Supreme Court expressly held that title to dry lands does not pass to states upon admission (see; Scott v. Lattig, 227 U.S. 229, 33 S.Ct. 242, 57 L.Ed. 490).

So there you have it. The federal judiciary made a distinction between submerged land under navigable waters verses dry land as to what states can claim upon admission into the federal union. So Nevada does not have title to the remaining land inside their state lines.