A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court on May 2, 2022 in Washington. Utah congressional candidate Tina Cannon suggests that a pending decision to overturn ‘Roe v. Wade’ may signal a High Court return to Federalism. (AP Photo/Anna Johnson)
MORGAN – Like the rest of Utah, congressional candidate Tina Cannon is anxiously awaiting a final decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on overturning Roe v. Wade.
That decision, she explains, may not only signal that the High Court once again supports the sanctity of life, but also a return to Federalism.
In early May, a leaked internal memo revealed that Justice Samuel Alito and conservative jurist-colleagues Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas have voted in closed sessions to overturn Roe v. Wade, the controversial 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationally.
If that leaked document actually represents the mood of the court, the question of abortion then becomes a state’s right issue.
The left-leaning Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion rights, says that 26 states have trigger laws on the books – including Utah — that will ban or severely limit abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Cannon, a former Morgan County commissioner, is one of three candidates in the running for the GOP nod for Utah’s 1st District seat in Congress in the GOP primary on June 28.
While her rivals — U.S. Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT) and former civilian intelligence officer Andrew Badger – trade accusations about the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill and the Jan. 6 Committee, Cannon is looking behind the SCOTUS headlines for broader applications.
If we’re suddenly going to have a Supreme Court that understands and respects Federalism and the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution again, she says, that’s going to have broad implications for Utah, particularly as it relates to public land issues.
As stipulated by the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, Federalism is a system of government in which the sometimes competing powers of the state and federal governments are clearly defined.
Cannon thinks that the Supreme Court could now be in the mood to rule in favor of Utah rather than the federal government in decades-old public lands disputes.
“Sixty-six percent of land in the state of Utah is controlled by the federal government,” Cannon said.
“The best estimate is that there is also between 150,000 and 200,000 acres … of federally controlled public land within municipal boundaries in Utah,” she added. “That’s Bureau of Land Management property …”
There is also an estimated 600,000 acres within one mile of cities’ or towns’ boundaries.
“That’s not a national park, not a monument, not even a historic site,” she adds. “These are plots of land that the BLM in most cases doesn’t even know they control.”
Thirty-two acres were recently returned to Mantua and similar land transfers took place in Hyde Park and Park City.
“Think of what the transfer of all that property would do to the price of land in Utah,” Cannon argues, “if we were just able to return that land to local governments and they were able to use it to build affordable housing.”
In April, Moore and U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) introduced the Lodging Options Developed for Government Employees (LODGE) Act in the U.S. House.
The LODGE Act will cut red tape and provide the National Park Service (NPS) with new authority to enter into innovative housing partnerships with the private sector.
But the beneficiaries of that legislation will be federal employees, not the states in which they reside.
“That’s one of the big differences between Blake and I,” Cannon observes. “He talks about doing public-private partnerships on federal land.
“That’s the opposite of what we need, because the state of Utah generally manages its property better than the federal government.”
The Supreme Court is expected to release its final decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization prior to the end of June. That was a test case from Mississippi seeking to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
In a draft decision leaked to the press in May, Justice Alito wrote that the High Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade was fundamentally flawed when it proclaimed a constitutional right to abortion.