Jurisdiction Boundary Marking
This proposed federal act has not yet been introduced. Readers are urged
to support doing so.
The Constitution, in Art. I Sec.
8 Cl. 17 prescribes that the U.S. Congress shall have exclusive legislative
jurisdiction only over parcels of territory ceded to them by an act of a state
legislature. An inventory of such parcels was taken and reported in a 1956
report entitled Jurisdiction over
Federal Areas within the States. Many federal statutes, including most
criminal statutes, apply only within the boundaries of such parcels, which are
sometimes referred to as "federal enclaves", but few such enclaves have their
boundaries marked to give persons due notice of the jurisdiction into which
they are entering. This creates an issue of whether such jurisdiction may be
legitimately exercised, in the absence of such notice. The proposed act would
remedy this deficiency.
- Within 180 days of the enactment of this act, each official with
administrative authority over any federal enclave established under Art. I Sec.
8 Cl. 17 shall mark the boundaries of such enclave with appropriate markers,
and with signs which identify the boundary, showing which side is under federal
jurisdiction, and which under state jurisdiction, and warning a person crossing
the boundary of which jurisdiction he is entering.
- If such enclave is not marked as prescribed above within 180 days of
enactment, or if, having been thus marked, the markings are removed, or not
adequately maintained for more than 90 days, federal jurisdiction will
terminate and revert to the state from which it was ceded.
The boundary of such enclave shall not be marked unless and until the
responsible official has:
- Determined that the federal government has clear title to the
property, as evidenced by a recorded deed, specifying the metes and bounds of
- Determined that an official, certified copy of the act of the
state legislature that consented to the purchase or ownership of the property,
and ceded jurisdiction thereto, has been filed with the U.S. Department of
State, and that such act specifically defined the property ceded by a metes and
- Determined that a declaration of acceptance of jurisdiction by
the U.S. federal government has been duly issued, signed by the President or
the Secretary of State, conveyed to the ceding state legislature or state
official designated by state law, and filed with the Secretary of State.
- Identified the boundary markers of a survey of the property, or
had the property re-surveyed if they cannot be found.
The appropriate markers shall depend on the nature of the terrain,
but may include:
- A painted stripe or engraved line.
- A fence or wall.
- A natural obstacle, such as a river or cliff face.
- Any other boundary marker in common use to clearly identify
- The signs shall be placed so that anyone entering the enclave along
any route will be able to see one under normal daytime lighting
- The markers and signs would provide the duly required notice of
jurisdiction to persons, without which they cannot be justly prosecuted, and
which would help clarify which courts and statutes would have jurisdiction in
all civil and criminal cases.
- The markers and signs would duly inform state and federal officials
of the boundaries of their respective jurisdictions.
- The markers and signs would stimulate the public to become better
informed about the differences between federal and state jurisdiction and
enable them to make better decisions about their conduct within each.
- The requirement would operate to remove legal ambiguities and
impairments to federal and state jurisdictions, and thereby avoid illegitimate
official actions and reduce litigation over such ambiguities and