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The Two United States: Why Federal Law Doesn’t Apply To You. Part 1 of 6
By Truth Seeker (from 29/08/2012 @ 05:01:06, in en - Science and Society, read 1375 times)

The United States and the Union of several States party to the Constitution of the United States are constitutional republics. The United States, by way of the Congress of the United States, has certain powers delegated to it by the Constitution. So far as the several States party to the Constitution are concerned, the United States may not exercise power not delegated by the Constitution. All power not delegated to the United States by the Constitution is reserved to the several States within their respective territorial borders, or to the people.

However, Congress is solely responsible for governing territory belonging to the United States. This authority is conferred at Article I, Section 8, clause 17 (Art. I § 8.17) and Art. IV § 3.2 of the Constitution. The responsibility for governing territory belonging to the United States is vested solely in Congress, it is not shared by the other two branches of federal government. Congress has absolute or what is described as plenary power—municipal power, police power, etc.

So far as its role as government for the several States party to the Constitution is concerned, the United States is an abstraction—it exists on paper only. It takes on physical reality after Congress positively activates constitutionally delegated powers through statutes enacted in accordance with Art. I § 7 of the Constitution. When statutes are in place authoring administrative or judicial activity, the “power” of the United States becomes manifest through people carrying out duties prescribed by law Congress has enacted.

The second physical aspect of the United States is constitutionally delegated authority to own land and other property. The only specific mention and direct estate is at Art. I § 8.17 of the Constitution, which specifies that the Congress may acquire land for the seat of government, and for forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings. States in which these land purchases are made must cede jurisdiction over the lands in order for the United States to extend federal laws and judicial authority over them.

When the United States acquires land, and secures jurisdiction over it, the United States becomes a geographical entity. In other words, after Congress [acquired] the present District of Columbia from Virginia and Maryland, and the two state governments ceded jurisdiction, the United States became a geographical entity. The geographical United States within the framework of Art. 1 § 8.17 of the Constitution includes the District of Columbia, and all forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings within the several States.

There is a second class of territory belonging to the United States that existed when government of the United States convened under the Constitution in 1789. This was territory claimed by the several States by way of the treaty of peace with Great Britain following the American Revolution. The land ceded by King George extended from the Great Lakes on the north to the Atlantic on the south, except for Florida—approximately everything from Illinois to Mississippi and Alabama. States of the Union ceded lands beyond their respective original borders to the United States in order to generate revenue to pay debts accumulated by the Revolution, with the condition that as they were settled and developed, the territories would become states of the Union.

Prior to these lands being admitted to the Union, they were territories of the United States. Under provisions of Art. IV § 3.2 of the Constitution, Congress is charged with responsibility for making all needful rules and regulations for territories belonging to the United States. Therefore, Congress has historically established territorial governments, providing for law enforcement, courts, and everything else necessary for a territory to operate in an orderly fashion.

The first venture in this enterprise was framed by the Ordinance of 1787, providing for government of the Northwest territories. The United States was at that time operating under the Articles of Confederation. In 1789, when government of the United States convened under the Constitution, the Ordinance of 1787 was adopted as an existing covenant obligation, and was subsequently extended to Kentucky, and as applicable, to southern territories—Alabama and Mississippi included. The Louisiana Purchase from France, and subsequently acquisition of Florida from Spain, included treaty agreements to incorporate the land and people under the constitutional scheme, so the Ordinance of 1787 was applied as the development guide in acquired territories as well.

This pattern held until after the Spanish-American War. Islands ceded by Spain in 1898 were not incorporated in the constitutional scheme. In 1901, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that while Puerto Rico and other islands ceded by Spain belonged to the United States, they were for certain purposes foreign to the several States and incorporated territories of the United States.

From the beginning, there were certain distinctions between the Union of States party to the Constitution and territories of the United States. For the most part, outlying territories were reasonably primitive, so many were first secured under military authority, then went through an evolution that progressed to representative government to development sufficient for self-rule. At that point, most territories established their respective constitutions and were admitted to the Union on equal standing with other States party to the Constitution.

Texas and California were two exceptions. Texas became an independent republic following the war of independence from Mexico, then joined the Union by way of treaty. Some time after Mexico ceded California, California became a state of the Union without formally going through territorial status. However, this has not been the case for islands ceded by Spain following the Spanish-American War and other island acquisitions other than Hawaii. With admittance of Hawaii and Alaska in 1959, the last of the incorporated territories of the United States became states of the Union, leaving only unincorporated territories, called insular possessions, under Congress’ Article IV plenary power.

In 1946, the Philippines became an independent commonwealth, exiting the family of United States insular possessions. In 1953, Puerto Rico became a commonwealth for purposes of local government, something on the order of states of the Union, but remained an insular possession of the United States subject to Congress’ Article IV authority.

There are a total of five larger United States insular possessions with viable local governments, four of which have courts of the United States: Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. The latter doesn’t have a federal court. Smaller insular possessions are for the most part uninhabited, or at best, sparsely populated, or small enough that populations aren’t truly viable small islands, reefs, etc. None are incorporated in the constitutional scheme, although Puerto Rico in particular has addressed the possibility of becoming a state of the Union.

After about 1870, Congress began reserving land for the United States within borders of new states admitted to the Union. This land fell within two classes: Unappropriated public lands, most of which was designated as national parks, forests, etc.; Yellowstone National Park was the first, and lands secured in trust for Native American Indians, most of which was used to establish reservations.

TO BE CONTINUED ...

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