The April 22, 2016 issue of Congressional Quarterly cited the work of Professors Bob Keiter and John Ruple in an article titled, “Managing Western Lands: Should the U.S. turn over federal lands to the states?”
But John Ruple, a University of Utah law professor and co-author of a legal analysis of the transfer movement, says Utah and the other Western states did not receive all the federal land within their borders at statehood because nothing in the equal footing doctrine required the federal government to relinquish the land.
“The Supreme Court has said that the equal footing clause is about political rights and sovereignty, and it is not about economic status or condition,” says Ruple. “Some states had a lot of federal land, others did not, and they had different economic resources. The equal footing doctrine was never intended to get rid of that diversity.” Ruple and many legal experts consider the issue long settled.