Statement on Signing the
Public Buildings Amendments of 1988
November 17, 1988
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.
November 17, 1988.
Note: S. 2186, approved
November 17, was assigned Public Law No. 100 - 678.