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Statement on Signing the Public Buildings Amendments of 1988

November 17, 1988

Today I am signing S. 2186, the Public Buildings Amendments of 1988. In signing this bill into law, I note, however, that one provision of the Act warrants construction in order to avoid constitutional difficulty. Section 5 permits the Administrator of General Services, "whenever the Administrator considers it desirable," to assign to a State the authority of the United States to "administer criminal laws and health and safety laws with respect to lands or interests in lands under the control of the Administrator" located in the State. This provision does not specify whether the laws to be administered are State or Federal laws. We understand this provision as merely permitting the waiving of exclusive Federal jurisdiction in circumstances when it would be useful to permit State administration of State law. Authority to administer Federal laws, however, could not be conferred on State officials who are not appointed as officers of the United States in accordance with the Appointments Clause, U.S. Const. art. II, sec. 2, cl. 2. Thus, to satisfy the underlying purpose of the section and to avoid reading it as conferring unconstitutional authority, we interpret the section only to permit the assignment to States of the authority to administer State laws.


The White House,

November 17, 1988.

Note: S. 2186, approved November 17, was assigned Public Law No. 100-678.

Ronald Reagan, Statement on Signing the Public Buildings Amendments of 1988 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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