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Property Rights, Eminent Domain, and State Sovereignty

“Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty.

-John Adams

“The States formed the Federal Government not the other way around” -Attributed to R. Reagan”

There has been erosion of individual property rights at the Local, state & Federal levels of government as well as the erosion of the sovereignty rights of states over their own territory. This process had begun slowly over the years under congresses & executive administrations of both parties and has accelerated exponentially over the last twenty.

Individual Property Rights: Since the ESA (Endangered Species Act ) passed in 1973 use of private lands can be restricted if an endangered plant or animal species are found to inhabit them.This act currently does not provide any compensation, so in effect the government (Federal & State) can dictate the use of private property: So that you cannot “harm harass, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect any threatened or endangered species.” “Taking” can also mean habitat alternation resulting in harm to the species. Added to the “Injury “ to the property holder is that in most cases they still have to pay taxes on the property. I am all for the responsible stewardship of the environment but if an individual purchases Land that does not have such restrictions on use at the time of purchase the government shouldn’t be allowed in essence “Seize” land without “Market Value” compensation. why doesn’t the Eminent Domain clause of the 5th amendment apply. If the Government feels this the necessity of taking a parcel of land for the “Public Good” they should use its constitutional power and not acquire it by “Stealth”.

Another erosion in my opinion has been last years supreme decision on the states Use of Eminent Domain in the now infamous Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005) case. That decision now gave local & state governments the authority to Use this power not for municipal use (For example a road, school, hospital, reservoir).But to transfer it to another private entity as long as it is used for the furtherance of economic development constitutes a permissible “public use”. This is an abuse of what the crafters of the 5th amendment meant by public use. Public use was exactly what it says meaning for the common use of the community not to transfer to another private entity or commercial use. As one of the dissenting justices Clarence Thomas stated in his opinion: “something has gone seriously awry with this Court’s interpretation of the Constitution.” He accuses the majority of replacing the Fifth Amendment’s “Public Use” clause with a very different “public purpose” test:

In response to this ruling and public outcry about 40 other states are also re-examining their laws in response to last June’s ruling,

State Sovereignty: A few weeks ago a secret Obama administration memo, a 21-page document, marked “Internal Draft-NOT FOR RELEASE” has surfaced revealing plans for the federal government to seize more than 10 million acres from Montana to New Mexico, by designating them as “monuments” under the 1906 Antiquities Act. This would stop any energy or any other development. Rep. Robert Bishop, Utah Republican, made the memo public Not only is this in my opinion incredibly stupid on a purely economic rationale for a country heavily dependent on foreign sources of energy but also shows the arrogance of the Federal Government in general and the executive branch in particular. It would be inconceivable to the founding fathers that by the edict of the President and by neglect of congress that several western states could lose control of millions of acres without their consent or even consultation. Senator DeMint has tried to stop this via an amendment. But the senate led by Democrats, rejected it by a vote of 58-38. The Federal Government now owns a huge portion of the land in most western states. See below: Nevada 84.5% Alaska 69.1% Utah 57.4% Oregon 53.1% Idaho 50.2% Arizona 48.1% California 45.3% Wyoming 42.3% New Mexico 41.8% Colorado 36.6% A few states have now sued the federal government over this issue. The states formed the federal Government and are sovereign entities, but because of continued erosion of the constitution they may soon in reality be relegated to just being considered “provinces” of our country with the federal government grabbing more & more power.

Just my opinion-D.B.

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