Dear Los Angeles Times


Members of Congress watch as President Obama signs San Gabriel Mountains proclamation

Dear Los Angeles Times,

In regards to your October 10, 2014, article “Critics protest Obama’s San Gabriel Mountains National Monument” by Louis Sahagun and Kate Mather, and specifically the statement therein: “The designation marks the 13th time that Obama has used his executive powers to establish or expand a national monument without congressional approval.”

The President is always acting with congressional approval when exercising his authority under the Antiquities Act. The text of the Antiquities Act shows both the source and discretionary power of this authority:

“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled . . .

That the President of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments, and may reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with [the] proper care and management of the objects to be protected. . . .”

“Approved, June 8, 1906”

Furthermore, each national monument proclamation from President Obama includes an explicit statement expressing this congressional authority:

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by section 2 of the Antiquities Act, hereby proclaim the objects identified above that are situated upon lands and interests in lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be. . . .”

National monument proclamations from presidents Theodore Roosevelt to George W. Bush also include a statement such as this one. Congress has amended the Antiquities Act once and, as the nation’s lawmakers, may do so again in the future. Consideration of the Act’s 108-year history, however, suggests that presidential use of the Antiquities Act is clearly occurring with the approval of Congress.

[Letter to the editor, submitted October 11, 2014, with the following response:

“Thank you! Your letter has been successfully submitted.”]


Image credit and sources:

Image from Representative Judy Chu, October 10, 2014. For original image and associated text, please click here.

Los Angeles Times article source:

From Sections 1-4 of the American Antiquities Act of 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431-433)

Antiquities Act text source:

Antiquities Act as amended:

The  Obama national monument proclamation text source used in this example is from his 2014 establishment of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument:

Also see this letter from Congress to USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack, in which Members of Congress request “protection of existing recreational opportunities,” along with the “establishment of [a] Public Advisory Council,” as well as other specific elements addressing local, regional, tribal, and other stakeholder values,  should these public lands become a national monument.

Dear Los Angeles Times



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