Property Rights and Property Seizures

Property Rights:

(Scroll down for items about property seizures, or click here.)

Editor's Note:
Everything pertaining to the Bundy Ranch and the Nevada Bureau of Land Management is now on its own page, located here.

Maybe We're Closer to "You'll Own Nothing" Than We Realize.  The World Economic Forum's catchphrase you'll own nothing and be happy was widely mocked as an eyebrow-raising vision of a "sharing economy" future without the implicit agency granted by full ownership.  Renting stuff that one needed only for one-time use has long been a market, and car-sharing makes sense for urban dwellers who only need a vehicle on occasion. [...] Given our dependence on software / digital rights and the phantom wealth of credit-asset bubbles,"how much do we actually own?" is a fair question.  Consider the recent New York Times article [excerpt below] Why Tech Companies Are Not Your Friends:  Lessons From Roku, which was reprinted in other publications with the more accurate title Our Gadgets Are Not Ours.  The gist of the article is that since we don't own control of the software, our "ownership" of the device is illusory.

Why Tech Companies Are Not Your Friends.  More than a decade ago, when we bought a TV it was just that -- a big screen that let you plug into it whatever you wanted.  Nowadays, the vast majority of TVs connect to the internet and run the manufacturer's operating system and apps.  Even though you bought the TV, the software component, a major part of what makes the product work, remains controlled by the company.  Changes to the product's software interface and data collection practices can happen at any moment.  In extreme examples, a device can stop working.

Protecting Property Rights from Squatters.  The rising problem of squatters illegally occupying people's homes has become so obvious that even the mainstream media have recently been paying some attention to it, and lawmakers are beginning to take action.  A survey by the National Rental Home Council found 1,200 homes in Atlanta alone have been taken over by squatters, News Channel 8 in Atlanta reports.  Georgia enacted a law in late April to speed up evictions of squatters. "We will be watching this develop over the next year," Atlanta's Fox 5 TV channel stated. [Numerous news reports omitted for brevity.]  As these and numerous other incidents show, governments have been complicit in these massive property thefts.

Democrat Arizona governor vetoes bill that would have made it easier for homeowners to remove squatters.  One of the less divisive issues making headlines recently is the growing problem of squatters and the overly permissive squatting laws in many states that enable them to live in homes that don't belong to them for years while homeowners are helpless to kick them out.  Most people are arguing in favor of making it easier to have squatters removed from properties, but Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs recently made a decisive move to help these criminals continue to live rent-free.  The Democrat governor recently vetoed state legislation that would empower homeowners to have squatters on their property removed by law enforcement officers almost immediately.  Squatters would be treated as trespassers if they continued living in the home.  Homeowners must currently go through long court battles and endless amounts of red tape before they can reclaim their property, and it appears that will remain the status quo in Arizona moving forward thanks to Gov. Hobbs' actions.

Squatter charged after allegedly taking over $1M property, getting homeowner arrested for changing locks.  A squatter who commandeered and rented out rooms in a woman's $1 million house in Queens, New York pleaded not guilty to a slew of charges Thursday about a month after the homeowner was arrested for trying to change the locks to oust the intruders.  On Feb. 29, Brian Rodriguez forced his way back into Adele Andaloro's home after she had changed the locks, pushing his way into the house as she tried to hold the door closed, according to the Queens District Attorney.  When he claimed that he was a legal tenant and Andaloro was trying to legally evict him, police had no choice but to remove Andaloro from the property — in New York, it's against the law to turn off the utilities, change the locks, and remove the belongings of someone who claims to be a tenant.

This is the equivalent of slow-motion squatting:
Fantasy Rules in Tribal Land Disputes.  The news story reads like a classic land dispute between government and business interests against the claims of Indian tribes.  Two massive projects are about to be started near a vast reservation in Arizona.  The first is a power line that runs through an ancestral valley, and the second is a copper mine that sits atop a sacred mountain.  Some local tribal members, not all, claim the projects will destroy these sacred lands and want the projects stopped.  The government claims the projects are needed to provide energy to neighboring cities and even the nearby Indian reservations. [...] However, the problem is that the local tribes have made no territorial claims to the valley or the copper mountain.  The cactus-studded San Pedro Valley is not part of their lands, and the power line will not cross through any tribal territory.  The valley has long been occupied by public and private properties.  The copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains never figured as part of any nearby reservation; it lies inside a national forest.  Nevertheless, these tribal activists claim the land is theirs.

The Great Taking:  How the Deep State Will Ensure You Own Nothing.  A longtime investment banker named David Webb is exposing a global plot dubbed "The Great Taking" to steal stocks and other assets from Americans and people across the world, explains The New American magazine Senior Editor Alex Newman in this episode of Behind The Deep State.  As part of the plan, laws were quietly changed to strip security owners of their property rights and instead give them a "security entitlement."  Now, those assets have been used as collateral by financial institutions as part of the massive derivatives complex.  And when the system crashes, which Webb suspects will happen this year, you will own nothing, and ordinary investors will be left out to dry as unsecured creditors while the megabanks take priority.  Thankfully, there are efforts to stop this in its tracks.  [Video clip]

Ron DeSantis Signs Bill That Takes Sledgehammer To Squatters' Rights.  Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Wednesday to crack down on squatters taking over homes in the state.  A TikToker recently went viral for telling illegal migrants how to use squatters' rights to steal Americans' homes, and there have been reports of squatters in states like New York.  DeSantis said this new legislation will speed up and simplify the process to remove squatters from homes during a press conference on the bill in Orlando.

You Didn't Think This Squatter Situation Just Appeared Out of Nowhere, Did You?  Private property isn't so private anymore.  When normal Americans weren't looking, squatters became cult heroes.  The left has been cultivating squatters' rights for years.  Woke cities are giving them legal backup by consolidating COVID-19-era no-eviction rules into free housing for months or years.  People seeking their piece of the American Dream are now the stars of the left's dystopian horror show.  The property takeovers are all over the country in the nation's woke cities.  The stories are legion.  [Numerous examples.]  When did all of this start?  The left has been mining this "occupy" vein for quite some time.  The idea behind it is that those mean old white colonists took other peoples' property and exploited it, so now a new set of white colonists are taking over people's private property because they're more noble.  The upshot is that they envy someone else's property but are too lazy to work and buy it for themselves, so they just take it.  This is supposedly striking a blow against gentrification.  Others call it stealing.

Outsquatting the Squatters.  Landlords are now beating squatters at their own game.  They are learning how to turn the tables by squatting on the squatters.  This concept of invading the homes of the squatters was made very public by Mr. Flash Shelton:  He became a national inspiration to landlords when he employed bold strategies to evict a mother-daughter grifter team from his mother's family home.  The dramatic event was recorded by Mr. Shelton and uploaded on YouTube.  His amateur production of outwitting the mother-daughter grifter team offered a glimpse of what could be accomplished when the injured party (i.e. landlord) refuses to be handcuffed by an inept and morally bankrupt judicial system.  He is a handyman by trade and used to getting the job done himself.  Landlords must have been gobsmacked by the simplicity of his strategy as evidenced by the more than two million views in less than 48 hours.  The informal eviction process would prove to take approximately 24 hours.

A California Company Is Making a Business Out of Kicking Squatters Out of Properties.  Hey California, having a problem with squatters?  Well, the free market has provided an answer, once again.  Introducing the "Squatter Squad."  According to the company's website, their business is going into your property where squatters may have taken up residence and do what's necessary to remove them: [...] A video of the "Squatter Squad" is making the rounds on social media that show them forcibly gaining entry into the home, tearing off the doors, and forcing the squatters out along with their things.  [Tweet with video clip]  Squatters have become an increasing problem all around the nation, especially as illegal aliens storm our border and take up residence on properties.  Some states have laws that protect squatters.  The "Squatter Squad" isn't the only game in town.  California's squatter problem is bad enough that other businesses have opened up.

TikToker tells followers how to 'invade' American homes and invoke squatter's rights.  A TikTok influencer is advising his followers on how to 'invade' American homes and invoke squatter's rights, making it difficult for them to be removed from properties.  Leonel Moreno, who goes by @leitooficial_25 online and appears to be a Venezuelan migrant, has told his followers that under US law, 'if a house is not inhabited, we can seize it'.  He is referring to squatter's rights, or adverse possession laws - a common law principle that allows an illegal inhabitant to acquire ownership of a property based on continuous occupation without the legal owner's consent.

Toronto police spark outrage for telling residents to leave their car keys at the front door to avoid thieves breaking in.  Toronto police sparked outrage after advising residents to leave their car keys at the front door and let thieves to take their vehicles.  This shocking message comes as car thefts have soared by 150 percent over six years in Canada's largest city, forcing residents to hide their cars in secret locations and fortify them with round-the-clock security.  At a recent community safety townhall meeting held in Etobicoke, Toronto Police Service (TPS) Constable Marco Ricciardi addressed the issue and offered his controversial tip.  'To prevent the possibility of being attacked in your home, leave your fobs at your front door, because thieves are breaking into homes solely to steal cars.  They don't want anything else,' said Ricciardi.  This bizarre advice has left residents and social media users outraged, with many attributing the rampant car theft to lax bail and sentencing rules under the administration of Justin Trudeau.

The Editor says...
What is the purpose of locks and keys?  What is the point of private property?  Aren't these the same public officials who have been telling us to "lock your car, take your keys" for decades?  Maybe the thieves are only want your car for now, but what happens when they come back someday for everything else?  Especially after you let them have your car without a fight!

Florida Lawmakers Unanimously Pass Anti-Squatting Bill to Permanently Close Infuriating Loophole.  Lawmakers in Florida are finally addressing the problem of squatting, one of the most egregious property rights violations going on in America today.  This month, both chambers of the state Legislature unanimously passed a bill allowing law enforcement to immediately remove squatters without waiting weeks or months for a case to move through the courts, according to WJXT-TV.  If signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the measure would go into effect on July 1.

Georgia Republicans target Atlanta squatters with hard-hitting bill: 'No more free rides'.  Georgia lawmakers are taking aim at Atlanta's squatting crisis with a proposed bill that would make the act a clear criminal offense in the Peach State as neighborhoods around the metro area continue to assess the situation with tied hands.  Approximately 1,200 homes have been taken over by squatters, according to the National Rental Home Council trade group, but with local law enforcement bound by tenant rights laws, homeowners have limited options to reclaim their property.  HB 1017, the Georgia Squatter Reform Act, aims to make that process easier.  "We have to do something about this," Rep. Devan Seabaugh, a Republican co-sponsoring the bill, told Fox News Digital on Monday.  "We're dealing with criminals... These are people that know exactly what they're doing, and they're stealing other people's most valuable capital, which is their home. [...]"

Claudine Gay, thief.  In a collectivist world, no one owns anything.  Neither name, face, voice, nor written words.  Neither right, title nor interest in anything tangible or intangible attaches to anyone.  No clothes, no food, no shelter, no means of transport, no currency, no birthright, no property.  No progeny.  No legacy.  Everyman, and woman, is named Emanon, or Emanona.  Possessions, likewise identities, are held in common.  Or by the state.  Undermining the quaint notion of the rugged individual is the assault on speech and objective truth, denying private property, expropriating the work product of someone else's labors from the mind or the hand.  In a collectivist world, ideas, or intellectual issue cannot be asserted by any individual.  No one has a claim on any expressed thought or notion, neither spoken nor written, sung nor acted, painted, sketched, molded, or spun.  In a collectivist world, intellectual property is an unearned meritless construct.  Likewise, valor is mere merchandise, a commodity, like a crab apple in a public park, low hanging free bounty.

You Really No Longer Own Your Securities, and You Could Also Lose Your Freedom.  Under a veil of benevolence, the Great Reset engineered by the World Economic Forum (WEF), aims to shift wealth from individuals and small businesses to global organizations controlled by the elite.  As part of this agenda, a revamping of the financial system has been underway for — believe it or not — over half a century, says David Rogers Webb in his recent book The Great Taking and its accompanying documentary.  Webb's research and insights demonstrate that the WEF's dubious catchphrase You'll own nothing, and you'll be happy already has risky implications for investments in securities, mutual funds, pension funds, and the like.  Investors, he shows, are no longer 'owners' of securities; they are only 'unsecured creditors.'  Besides, investments are vulnerable to the vagaries of the opaque derivatives market.  If the system collapses — he says this is inevitable — investors will not only lose money, they will receive no compensation.

The EU Wants to Seize Your Old Car to Meet Climate Goals.  The EU is now finding more ways to take away your freedoms.  They want to take away ownership of your old car and scrap it!  Yes, you read that correctly.  The EU has something called End-of-life vehicles directive, and they are looking to expand this to become so draconian that it reminds of something that would have happened in the Communist Soviet Union.  A new set of criteria will be established that will decide whether you will be allowed to keep your car.  If your car does not meet the criteria, the EU will seize your car and scrap it.

Welcome migrants, bye-bye property rights.  Anti-borders politicians have created a migrant crisis all over the United States.  Despite proudly proclaiming themselves to be "sanctuary cities" that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts, places like New York City and Boston have proven themselves to be profoundly inept at managing the large numbers of migrants who have responded to their invitation.  What are radical, globalist mayors and lieutenant governors to do when they find themselves with egg on their faces?  They expect regular Janes and Joes to clean up their mess.  In June of this year, New York City Mayor Eric Adams asked everyday New Yorkers to consider housing migrants in spare rooms in their private residences.  More recently, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll jumped on the bandwagon and appealed to Bay State residents to "host" migrants in "an extra room or suite."  The Big Apple and Beantown are two of the most expensive cities in the United States.  And they have both been whining about housing crises for years.

Do you own your own cells and DNA?  Here's a question to ponder this evening and it involves a relatively famous woman named Henrietta Lacks.  She passed away back in 1951, but in her 31 short years on this planet, she made a remarkable contribution, even if she didn't know it at the time.  A book was written about her life and it was later made into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey.  Back in the fifties, she was being treated for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins.  Doctors removed some cells from a tumor in her body for study.  The cells turned out to be remarkable and became known in the industry as HeLa cells for their ability to be endlessly reproduced.  They would later be used in many medical breakthroughs.  But Lacks was never compensated or even told about this.  Her family would later sue one of the companies making use of the cells over the years for wrongly profiting off of Lacks.

WEF Partner Aimed to 'End' 'Private Car Ownership' to Save the Planet.  The World Economic Forum (WEF) isn't the only entity planning for a world where you "own nothing, have no privacy" and enjoy it — or else.  WEF's partner Arup Group released a 2019 report pontificating, "private car ownership needs to end."  This was allegedly going to solve the fake "crisis" of climate change, which has supposedly been about to cause global apocalypse for 50 years now.  But give up your car, you stupid peasant, and trust the experts.  Arup Group, which is listed as a partner by the insidious World Economic Forum, released a 2019 report demanding that consumption of clothing, cars, electronics, and food has to change — for everyone except the elites, presumably — or climate change will kill us all.  The report touts "net zero" carbon goals, totally ignoring the fact that carbon is absolutely essential for life on Earth.  Indeed, increased carbon actually helps plants — including food crops — thrive, and humans and animals need it too.  But neither Arup nor WEF is interested in objective science, only in a narrative that impoverishes most citizens and gives the elites exponentially more control.

Squatters invade homes and refuse to leave.  How is this legal?  [Scroll down]  Prosecutors and politicians play a critical role in these scams.  Local authorities have done little to assist homeowners for a variety of reasons — from political calculations to negligence.  Instead, they force landowners to go into overtaxed housing courts with notoriously slow dockets.  It often takes months or years to get an eviction order.  The resulting lack of deterrence is evident in the brazen attitude of these criminals.  A retiree friend of mine was away from her home is Sarasota, Florida, when a squatter moved in and refused to leave.  The woman falsely claimed that she had a lease and trashed the home.  Eventually, she was arrested but promptly released.  She then returned and stole my friend's car.  The police said there was likely little that would happen to the squatter.

On Life, Liberty, and Property.  In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson famously used a curious phrase to describe man's fundamentally inalienable rights:  "among these, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  What many do not know is that Jefferson was riffing off and augmenting a similar formulation from John Locke, who argued that we have inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property.  Locke further argued that our right to property is meaningful in that the free use of our property is a means to enable our pursuit of happiness, thus explaining the meaning in Jefferson's phrase.  [Video clip]

WEF Calls for 75% Reduction in Private Car Ownership.  The World Economic Forum (WEF) is calling on global governments to agree to new green agenda goals that will significantly reduce the number of cars that are privately owned by the public.  The WEF is pushing for a staggering 75 percent reduction in the private ownership of cars, including electric vehicles, by 2050.  Klaus Schwab's globalist organization argues that most of the world's population will be "urban" by 2050 and the public won't be able to justify the need for a private car or the use of commercial air travel.  The WEF's latest demand was exposed in a new report from the Wall Street Journal.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams says migrants should be housed in 'private residences' as many buildings have spare rooms.  New York City Mayor Eric Adams has suggested putting migrants in 'private residences' to deal with the influx of economic dependents seekers in the Big Apple.  The statement came while Adams announced a partnership with New York houses of worship to give migrants a place to stay across the city.  'It is my vision to take the next step to this faith-based locales and then move to a private residence... They have spare rooms,' Adams said Monday afternoon [6/5/2023].

The "right to repair" fight heats up.  [Colorado] Governor Jared Polis is expected to sign a bill into law being described as a "right to repair" bill.  The measure would force manufacturers to provide customers manuals, parts, and specialized tools allowing those who wish to do so the ability to repair the equipment they purchase.  It's being advertised as a bill primarily intended to help farmers, but it could really be of benefit to almost any consumer.  But it's true that it is of particular interest to people working in agriculture.

US farmers win right to repair John Deere equipment.  Tractor maker John Deere has agreed to give its US customers the right to fix their own equipment.  Previously, farmers were only allowed to use authorised parts and service facilities rather than cheaper independent repair options.  Deere and Co. is one of the world's largest makers farming equipment.  Consumer groups have for years been calling on companies to allow their customers to be able to fix everything from smartphones to tractors.

At what point should you concede that you don't really own your car?
Mercedes Puts Faster Acceleration Behind A Subscription Paywall.  Back in July, BMW raised a bit of a ruckus when the company announced that it would be making heated seats a luxury option for an additional $18 per month.  Now, Mercedes aims to take the concept one step further by announcing that buyers of the company's new Mercedes EQ electric models will need to pay a $1,200 (plus taxes and fees) yearly subscription to unlock the vehicles' full performance.

Now, they are coming for your car.  The automobile is arguably the most liberating invention in history, or at least is in the top five of all time.  It allows people to travel anywhere at any time at fast speeds.  The increase in mobility from mass auto ownership has been a major driver of increased incomes and wealth.  One of the best ways to help low-income people out of poverty is to get them a car so they can drive to jobs that may be located far outside their neighborhoods.  Perhaps it is the very independence and autonomy that cars give individuals that the collectivists on the left hate.  Liberals have been trying to push Americans into mass transit buses and trains for decades to no avail.  Today, less than 5% of all trips are using mass transit.  Except for those in major congested cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, everyone wants their own car.  Under the new California law, after 2035, you will have to either buy and drive an electric vehicle, take the bus or lace up your sneakers and walk to work.

World Economic Forum attacks idea of private property, natural rights.  The World Economic Forum is pushing for a global transition away from private ownership of vehicles and other "idle equipment" as part of a "clean energy revolution," itself part of the Great Reset.  In a recently released report, the Swiss-based international lobbying group stated that "transition from fossil fuels to renewables will need large supplies of critical metals such as cobalt, lithium, nickel."  But the report noted that shortages of these critical metals are likely to make renewable fuel technologies prohibitively expensive.

Portland homeless break into vacant homes and police don't have resources to do anything about it.  Residents of one Portland neighborhood say as many as 16 people have broken into two vacant houses on their street and are coming in and out at all hours, piling up trash and leaving used needles in the grass. [...] Imagine having to work every day so you can pay the mortgage on your Portland home only to have a bunch of unemployed drug addicts break in next door and drive the value of your property down to nothing.  No one is going to want to buy these homes so long as the homeless are camped out next door.  But when the homeowners call police, they are told there aren't enough cops to deal with anything as low priority as squatters.

Neighbors say houseless people are breaking into vacant homes in Southeast Portland.  A line of RVs sat parked along Southeast 67th Avenue outside of two vacant homes late Thursday morning.  Neighbors say the area has become a magnet for members of Portland's houseless community taking advantage of the unoccupied properties.  "It's unbearable to watch your whole city become a dumpster fire," said Annette Benedetti, who lives nearby.  She described what it's been like since a group of about 16 houseless people moved into the neighborhood.

Couple fined $1,500 for parking in their driveway after nearly 40 years of doing so.  In what appears to be an instance of bureaucratic excess if not a lack of common sense, San Francisco officials threatened to fine a couple $1,500-plus for illegally parking in their own driveway, a spot they've been using for nearly four decades.  The sudden notification, which was reportedly prompted by an anonymous complaint, came from the city's Planning Department.  Longtime residents Judy and Ed Craine, who live on a steep hill, received the $1,542 ticket, for parking on a carport in front of their home in apparent violation of code.

How to Grow and Forage Without Owning Land.  Have you ever wanted to grow your own food but didn't know where to start?  Access to fresh, healthy food is a human right, and one of the best ways to exercise that right is to grow your own food.  You don't have to be a farmer or have a background in agriculture.  You don't even have to own your own land.  The industrialization of our chemical-dependent food system has caused problems that are nearly insurmountable, including soil degradation, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, a decline in public health and climate change.  But food production doesn't have to be globalized, industrialized or even monetized.  That's the message environmental activist and humanitarian Rob Greenfield wants to convey in a new project in which he aims to grow and forage 100% of his own food for one year.

The Editor says...
Sounds like a scam.  If you grow vegetables on somebody else's land, they're somebody else's vegetables.

Washington Dem socialist congressional candidate Rebecca Parson calls for breaking into empty homes.  Washington Democratic congressional candidate Rebecca Parson has a bold idea to get Congress to pass housing legislation: have a million people break into empty houses.  Parson, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, is running to represent Washington's 6th Congressional District.  In a video ad, she outlined what she and her followers can do if she wins.  "Imagine I proposed a Housing for All Bill in Congress, Then imagine you, me, and a million of our friends took action and occupied empty houses nationwide.  They couldn't ignore us," Parson says in the ad.  "No one has ever done anything like this," Parson continues.  "That's why it's going to work."

Sick Elderly Man Forced to Sell Home After Squatter Refuses to Leave.  An infirmed elderly man has no choice but to sell his Northern Virginia home after a squatter has refused to leave.  A woman reportedly convinced the homeowner that she had fallen on hard times and needed a place to stay.  The man offered her the basement, but after three years she has yet to leave and does not pay rent.  The story was first reported by the New York Post.  The five-bedroom home, located not far from Washington D.C., is listed for $800,000 and is currently under contract.  Zinta Rodger-Rickert, the listing agent with RE/MAX Gateway, told the New York Post that a squatter is currently taking advantage of a sick, elderly homeowner.

Digital Money and Liberty.  The Biden Administration is considering the implementation of digital money.  This transition has some time urgency because the Chinese consider digital money to be a financial opportunity by which they can displace the U.S. dollar as the world's reserve currency.  There are tremendous advantages to being the world's reserve currency, so this is a matter of national interest.  Any transition to digital money poses a challenge to liberty.  For example, the Chinese consider digital money to be another step further down their totalitarian social scoring system.  Controlling money digitally provides the power to cut off an individual completely from a financial system.  This directly threatens an individual by withholding the means to eat, be clothed, and have shelter.  Liberty is directly in the crosshairs because property can be impounded or seized.  Without private property, which provides the means to be independent of government, there is no liberty. [...] Before the U.S. implements any system of digital money, a constitutional amendment addressing several important points is needed to protect individual rights and liberty.  A statute is unacceptable because it is too easily undone by progressives with authoritarian inclinations.  More permanent protection of individual rights and liberty is needed.

Kelo v. New London: Progressives vs.  Private Property.  Your home is your castle, right?  You get to keep the fruits of your labors, right?  That's what government of, by, and for the people means, right?  Not according to the far-lefties who call themselves progressives.  They say that property rights should be "socially beneficial."  In the winter of 1998, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. announced plans for a global research facility in New London, Connecticut.  Shortly thereafter, the New London government gave approval to the New London Development Corporation (NLDC), a private non-profit, to plan and execute the redevelopment of some 90 acres of the Fort Trumbull neighborhood.  The area to be developed, mostly private property with more than 100 private homes, would be taken by eminent domain.  The residents were not pleased.

Albany's 'No Eviction Ever' bill will devastate landlords — and NY's housing stock.  An Airbnb user who never intends to leave.  Tenants not paying enough rent to keep up buildings.  A roommate temporarily renting a room who later decides not to move out.  Under the Legislature's misleadingly named "Good Cause Eviction" bill, these occupants can all remain in their apartments forever and the property owner has virtually no recourse.  "No Eviction Ever" would be a better name for an absurdly vague, sweeping proposal that would place strict new limits on rent increases and evictions for nearly 1.6 million New York renters.  While some revisions are likely, the business community and real-estate industry nonetheless fear it'll become law with its devastating core elements intact.  The bill broadly defines nearly anyone who pays another person to occupy real estate in New York as a "tenant" and expressly prevents landlords from removing them except in the narrowest circumstances.

John Deere Is Facing a Farmer Revolt.  Farm equipment giant John Deere boasted record profits in 2021 as the global pandemic made consumers and countries more reliant than ever on a functioning agricultural sector.  Also last year, unionized workers demanded a piece of the company's growing pie, and after a strike forced John Deere to provide better compensation to the men and women who make its products.  But now the company has another, potentially bigger problem:  farmers.  These customers are revolting against restrictions on how they repair increasingly complex equipment.

Treasure hunters demand answers from FBI about search for civil war-era gold.  Treasure hunters who believe they found a huge cache of fabled US civil war-era gold in Pennsylvania are now on the prowl for something as elusive as the buried booty itself:  government records of the FBI's excavation.  Finders Keepers, a lost treasure locate and recovery service, filed a federal lawsuit against the justice department over its failure to produce documents on the FBI's search for the legendary gold, which took place nearly four years ago at a remote woodland site in north-western Pennsylvania.  Up to 52 gold bars were said to have been buried in a forest in Pennsylvania during the battle of Gettysburg.  "With its request Plaintiff seeks to confirm the FBI's recovery of Civil War-era gold buried in the mountains of Pennsylvania, based in significant part on scientific evidence of the gold's existence that Plaintiff provided the FBI," the lawsuit said.

The Supreme Court Can and Should Resolve 'Waters of the United States' Issue.  For decades, there has been major confusion regarding what waters are regulated under the Clean Water Act.  The United States Supreme Court can change this by agreeing to hear a case brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation.  In its petition asking the court to hear the case, Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, the Pacific Legal Foundation presents a simple question:  Should Rapanos v. United States be revisited to adopt the plurality opinion's standard for regulated wetlands?  In 2006, the late Justice Antonin Scalia in Rapanos provided much-needed clarity on what waters are covered under the Clean Water Act, and specifically what waters, including wetlands, should be considered "waters of the United States" (informally known as WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act.  This definition is extremely important because it clarifies what waters the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have jurisdiction over under the law.  Unfortunately, Scalia's opinion in Rapanos was a plurality opinion, not getting the necessary five votes for a majority.  As a result, the Supreme Court wasn't able to provide the clarity it could have 15 years ago.

Woman wins a round in fight over SWAT team's demolition of her home.  A Texas woman has won a round in her fight to force the city of McKinney, Texas, to be held accountable for the destruction of her home.  The Institute for Justice explained a federal judge ruled recently the lawsuit by Vicki Baker over the destruction of her residence by the city's SWAT team can move forward.  "The court recognized that the city of McKinney is not exempt from the Constitution," said IJ Attorney Jeffrey Redfern.  "This is the first step towards Vicki getting her due, but it's a big one.  The government must compensate individuals when it deliberately destroys their property."

Why Authoritarianism Must Prevail.  Consider, for example, recent calls to allow the IRS to monitor essentially all bank accounts in the country.  Maybe Americans will accept it, if, as claimed, the power is only used to enforce current tax laws.  But if tax rates rise appreciably, as it seems they will, given the current administration's policy goals, or if the transaction information is used for partisan political purposes, or to shame or coerce people into buying this, or not buying that, Americans will begin to search for workarounds.  To the extent that the workarounds prove successful, government will be forced to outlaw the workarounds too.  For instance, if workers ask their employers to pay them in Federal Reserve Notes or Bitcoin because they believe that the transaction costs of making payments in those media will be less burdensome than giving some party hack access to the most intimate details of their lives, the government may well force employers to pay workers only in USD and only via bank transfer.  It might even ban cryptocurrencies entirely, or at least try to.

Democrats to scale back Treasury's IRS bank reporting plan, raise threshold from $600 to $10,000.  Senate Democrats are set Tuesday [10/19/2021] to announce a scaled-down version of the Biden administration's proposal to crack down on Americans it suspects are dodging taxes.  The administration's original proposal was greeted with overwhelming opposition from fiscal conservative groups, the banking industry and other over concerns about financial privacy.  The initial plan, conceived by the Treasury Department and Senate Democrats, would have allowed the Internal Revenue Service access to information on bank accounts that had at least $600 worth of annual deposits or withdrawals.  The new proposal will still allow the IRS to access information on accounts that transfer or receive more than $10,000 annually.  However, it will exclude all wage income from counting toward the $10,000 threshold.

Decoding the Proposed New Invasive IRS $600 Bank Reporting Rule.  The right to privacy is a fundamental human right in any democratic country.  It is also recognized by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and many other international and regional treaties.  Beyond the laws and proclamations, the right to privacy is rooted in a citizen's inherent right to dignity.  In a democracy, the state is subordinate to the citizen hence the government must respect the rights and dignity of the citizen.  The citizen has the right to withhold any information that he or she deems unsuitable for public consumption, provided that the information is not related to any criminal activity.  It doesn't have to always be highly sensitive salary or health records; a citizen may not the public to know of his or her the history of frivolous videos watched on YouTube.  This is a right that cannot be violated.  Confidentiality is closely related to privacy.  While privacy pertains to the person, confidentiality pertains to information.

What happened to the eviction crisis?  Ever since the Supreme Court allowed the federal eviction moratorium to expire at the end of August, many activists have been on pins and needles waiting to see what would happen next.  For well over a year we'd heard the warnings about an impending eviction crisis, and it certainly sounded like something that would probably happen.  So many people lost their income in 2020 and were unable to keep up with their rent or mortgage payments that there should have been a flood of tenants and homeowners who were simply too far behind to catch up.  But now, more than a month after the moratorium expired, the predicted wave of evictions has largely failed to materialize.

Where's That Crisis Leftists Predicted After the Eviction Moratorium Expired?  When the Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on evictions, a flurry of left-wing hyperbole and paranoid fearmongering commenced, forecasting a national crisis.  "How are we on vacation when we have millions of people who could start to be evicted tonight?" radical Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) ranted dishonestly with other progressives by her side this summer from the U.S. Capitol steps.  "There are people already receiving and have received pay or vacate notices that will have them out tomorrow."

Ending a Destructive and Illegal Government Program.  Late last week the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a stay on a lower-court decision that struck down the Biden administration's extension of the CDC's nationwide eviction moratorium.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed the Court's decision was "cruel" and that it "immorally ripped away" tenant protections.  But who is really cruel here?  Neither Pelosi nor her progressive colleagues seem at all concerned about the plight of small landlords whose pandemic losses have been exacerbated by the moratorium combined with government ineptitude and indifference.  Yet, as the Court observed, "many landlords have modest means," and millions of them around the country are "at risk of irreparable harm by depriving them of rent payments with no guarantee of eventual recovery."

An American apocalypse — why people of all classes, races are filled with fear.  Joe Biden has also conceded that his hold on housing evictions deliberately defied a Supreme Court ruling.  He added that he probably did not have the legal authority to ignore the court, but did not really care.  As in the case of demolishing immigration law, the president seems either unaware or proud that he is insidiously dismantling the Constitution.  America has also never quite seen such overt and multifaceted efforts to undermine the foundations of free-market capitalism.  At a time of resurging GDP, low unemployment, and record worker shortages, Biden has announced that renters can continue to avoid paying what they owe their landlords — even after a prior year of such free housing.

Yes, There Are Victims in the Government's Eviction Moratorium.  Listening to radical activists, you might be fooled into thinking that the government's demonstrably illegal eviction moratorium had no downside whatsoever.  In fact, the only harm done was to rich, white property owners who could afford to give their tenants a small break in rent during the COVID crisis.  That's not even close to being true.  There are plenty of victims of the government's eviction moratorium — just like there are winners and losers every time the government chooses to "help" people.  The problem comes from those who pretend there are only happy winners when the government prevents commerce from going on.  In truth, there are a whole bunch of losers too — victims of an altruistic government that chooses one class of people (tenants) over another (landlords).

Protracted Rent Moratorium Forcing Small Landlords Out of Business.  Extended rent moratoriums and the slow distribution of billions in federal rent assistance are driving many small landlords to call it quits.  "Nobody wants to become a landlord anymore," said Diane Baird, executive director of the Lake Erie Landlord Association.  "And we have very few new people entering into the business."  The Lake Erie Landlord Association represents landlords in northern Ohio, southern Michigan, and western Pennsylvania.  Jon Frickensmith, president of the South Wisconsin Landlord Association, told The Epoch Times, "Multiple landlords have told me they are selling out.  They ask us how to get out of the business and how to get the tenants out of their houses.  These are mom-and-pop operators, the kind of landlords that are willing to take tenants with bad credit or a criminal history.  This will only add to the housing crisis."  The vast majority of landlords in the United States are individuals, with most owning one or two rental houses.

Supreme Court partially blocks New York's eviction moratorium.  New York's COVID Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act says that if a tenant self-certifies his or her financial hardship, landlords generally cannot contest that certification in court.  Instead, the tenant is free to remain in the property without paying rent.  Today [8/12/2021], the Supreme Court lifted this particular ban on evictions.  The Court did not disturb the provision in the same law that instructs New York courts to entertain a covid-related hardship defense in eviction proceedings, assessing a tenant's income prior to covid, income during covid, liquid assets, and ability to obtain government assistance.  The landlords who brought the case did not seek such relief.

Joe Biden Looks to Violate the Constitution Again in What Would Be an Incredibly Destructive Move.  Is this the next escalation in the war between Joe Biden and Ron DeSantis?  Joe Biden announced this evening [8/10/2021] that he is looking into whether he can institute a national mask mandate for all the schools in the nation.  Given his rhetoric prior to illegally extending the eviction moratorium, it's probably safe to assume he plans to move forward here as well. [...] While Biden doesn't sound confident, this is exactly the type of tone he took prior to extending the eviction moratorium.  He claimed he didn't have the power originally.  Yet, under pressure from the left, he did so anyway admitting that it was likely illegal.  Look for him to do the same thing here, with the likely idea being that by the time any challenge makes its way through the courts, the Delta wave will be waning.  In the meantime, children would be forced to suffer for no reason whatsoever.  There is no science behind masking children.

Mr. Biden's eviction moratorium extension is illegal.  President Biden's extension of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's eviction moratorium is bad policy pursued by lawless means.  It violates alike the rights of millions of property owners and Mr. Biden's own oath of office.  The recession is long over, and employment is freely available.  So are vaccines.  The economic rationale has long been pretextual.  A Supreme Court majority has made clear that the moratorium, put over in a power grab by former president Donald Trump's CDC, has no basis in existing federal authority.  Having conceded that "the bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it's not likely to pass constitutional muster," Mr. Biden outrageously cited it as a way of stalling:  "By the time it gets litigated it will probably give some additional time."  What contempt for law!

Canceling the Constitution:  Biden hailed for violating rule of law to extend eviction moratorium.  During the 2020 presidential campaign, then-candidate Joe Biden told voters that the choice between him and Donald Trump was between the lawful and the lawless.  He called for voters to support "the rule of law, our Constitution," a choice repeated mantralike by the media to "end Trump's assault on the rule of law."  Now, six months into his presidency, Biden is openly flouting the Constitution with a knowingly invalid extension of the eviction moratorium — and some law professors and advocates on the left are cheering him for it.  A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court ruled on the authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to impose a nationwide moratorium on the eviction of renters during the pandemic.  Some of us criticized the CDC order as unconstitutional.  The reason is the breathtaking authority claimed by the CDC under a federal law that gives it the power to "make and enforce such regulations as in [its] judgment are necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases."  I have long been a critic of such unchecked and undefined authority in pandemics.  This, however, is a particularly chilling example.  It would give the CDC authority over huge swaths of our economy to avoid even the possibility of the "introduction" or spread of a disease.  It means that a Constitution designed to prevent tyranny and authoritarianism becomes largely irrelevant if you put on a white lab coat.  After all, the law was designed to control disease, not democracy, as a public health priority.

Report: Nancy Pelosi Told White House to Consult Laurence Tribe in CDC Power Grab.  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told President Joe Biden's White House to seek help from left-wing legal scholar Laurence Tribe in trying to find a way around the Supreme Court's rejection of an eviction moratorium by the CDC.  According to the Washington Post, citing Punchbowl News, Pelosi advised the White House to seek Tribe's help.  Tribe also advised Democrats to delay delivering the articles of impeachment to the Senate against Trump in 2020, the better to gain leverage over the Republican-controlled Senate for procedural concessions.  Tribe, who had pushed for Trump's impeachment before he was inaugurated, provided legal advice to the Democrats throughout the failed impeachment.

Tenant Eviction Moratoria Are More Than Unconstitutional; They're Insurrectionary.  State and federal tenant eviction moratoria go beyond "unconstitutional."  They're a direct assault on the constitutional order itself.  They represent insurrection from above.  I'm not prone to overstatement.  Read on.  Surf the web, and you'll find many critics of the moratoria — even in the establishment media.  Under special fire is President Joe Biden's purported extension of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) federal moratorium.  Critics note that Biden has been able to cite no legal support for his action.  Critics also argue that the CDC's order exceeds the scope of Congress's authorizing statute and of the regulation issued under it.  A majority of the Supreme Court agrees with this position.  Critics further claim that if we do read Congress's statute broadly enough to authorize the CDC's order, then Congress exceeded its power to delegate to an executive agency.  While they acknowledge that the modern Supreme Court has expanded greatly the scope of Congress's power under the Constitution's Commerce and the Necessary and Proper Clauses, they contend that the order exceeds the scope of this expansion.

Realtor groups sue Biden administration, CDC over new eviction moratorium.  A coalition of housing groups led by the Alabama Association of Realtors on Thursday filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., challenging the latest eviction moratorium, calling the Biden administration's action "nakedly political" and "unlawful."  "[T]he CDC caved to the political pressure by extending the moratorium, without providing any legal basis," the emergency motion says.  "In substance and effect, the CDC's latest action is an extension of the same unlawful ban on evictions that has been in effect since September 2020."  "Justice Kavanaugh's controlling opinion was clear that the CDC could not extend the moratorium past July 31 absent 'clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation),'" the real estate groups also said.  "This Court has already concluded that the CDC lacks authority to issue or extend an eviction moratorium."

Biden: Even if the Court eventually rules against our eviction moratorium, we can keep it in place for months by appealing.  This is the aspect of his moratorium chicanery that I find most breathtaking, the frank admission that he's trying to exploit the legal process to extend a dubious executive order.  Most everyone else has focused on the substance of what the White House did, replacing a certainly illegal moratorium order with a new one which they have every reason to know is almost certainly illegal.  And that's appalling.  But the problem could be solved if the courts reacted quickly by scheduling an expedited hearing on the numerous challenges to the new order.  When the president is as candid as Biden is here in admitting that he's gaming the judicial system to keep an illegal measure in place for as long as he can, they have a duty to stop him by putting all other business on hold to consider the merits of that measure.  If they don't, they're letting him get away with it.

North Carolina landlord owed $24,000 in unpaid rent from tenants rages at Biden and the CDC's plan.  A North Carolina landlord says he is out $24,000 in unpaid rent from his tenants, including one who splurged on three boats and requested a $4,500 heat pump during the pandemic.  Buddy Shoup, a property owner near Charlotte, worries that the tab will only grow following the CDC's recent decision to extend the moratorium on rental evictions until October 3.  The suspension of evictions was first imposed by the Trump administration at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and was set to end July 31, but then it was extended another 60 days Tuesday.  The new 60-day ban protects millions of renters from eviction and covers counties with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission rates.

Thanks to Brett Kavanaugh, We Have the Very Slippery Slope of the New CDC Eviction Order.  As we previously reported, Joe Biden announced that the CDC would be coming down with a new temporary eviction moratorium order.  What was so stunning about Biden's remarks is that he indicated he knew it was likely to not pass constitutional muster, his own advisors had said the day before that they didn't have the legal authority, that they had "quadruple-checked it."  Yet he decided to do it anyway, caving under pressure from the progressives.  But, in the process, he also said the quiet part out loud — that they were going to do it anyway even if it was unconstitutional because it would take time for the lawsuits that would be filed to get the order stayed.

Tucker Carlson blasts CDC director Rochelle Walensky for extending eviction moratorium.  The Biden administration's 'totalitarian' move to extend the eviction moratorium means the head of the CDC 'will now decide who can live in your home, under what circumstance, and for how long,' Tucker Carlson says.  The Fox News host on Wednesday [8/4/2021] blasted Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, as 'just a college professor' who 'you'd almost certainly never heard of before this year.  'Rochelle Walensky now makes the laws,' Carlson told his viewers on Wednesday.

Biden Openly Admits He is Attempting to Subvert The U.S. Constitution Regarding Private Property Ownership.  During the question and answer session following his remarks yesterday [8/3/2021], Joe Biden said something out loud the media are desperately trying to hide.  In this video segment listen carefully to what he says.  As the Supreme Court and lower courts have determined, the CDC has no legal authority to block the rights of property owners from rental income from their tenants.  This is a basic issue in the Constitution about private property rights and the limits of federal government to intervene.  However, think about Joe Biden taking an oath of office "to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," and contrast that oath against these public statements.  In his remarks Biden readily admits that all constitutional scholars have advised the White House that a regulatory eviction moratorium will *NOT* pass constitutional scrutiny.

Mark Levin says Biden should be removed from office.  Mark Levin says it is time to start talking about using impeachment or the 25th Amendment against Joe Biden to remove the "most disastrous president in modern American history" from office.  The conservative commentator, who commands a large following on the Right, took aim at Biden's handling of the border situation and the coronavirus pandemic, making the case to fellow Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday that the Democratic commander in chief violated the Constitution.  After a series of insults, Levin said Biden has "the border wide open in violation of our immigration laws" and invoked the administration's eviction moratorium, which came this week despite a Supreme Court decision in June ruling an earlier eviction moratorium could only be extended by Congress.

Socialism fails at the ballot box, so Biden uses CDC to eliminate property rights.  Biden handily beat Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2020 presidential primary, precisely because he rejected socialism.  Ever since, voters have continued to deal blows to socialism at the ballot box, including in this week's special election to replace now-HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge's congressional seat. [...] Biden's new eviction moratorium, the fruit of agitation by these socialists, is politically expedient for him at a time when surging inflation and stagnating labor force participation threaten his party's midterm elections odds.  Knowing that Congress cannot pass the moratorium, Biden has simply chosen to defy the law, letting the unelected bureaucrats at the CDC trounce on the God-given property rights of over 10 million landlords.  As with most of the pandemic's norm-defying regulations, the eviction moratorium will only continue to exacerbate the divide between the haves and the have-nots.

Biden Spits in the Eye of the Supreme Court and Declares Himself a King With Eviction Move.  At this point, I'm not sure who would be able to keep up with how many times the Biden bunch have flip-flopped back and forth when it comes to the Wuhan coronavirus.  Joe Biden indicated today that the CDC would be reviving the eviction moratorium after it expired on July 31.  This would ban eviction in counties with high rates of the Wuhan coronavirus according to the assessment by the CDC for sixty days and is expected to cover 90% of renters in those areas.  Biden did this despite his team saying just yesterday that he didn't have the legal authority to extend it and the CDC also saying that they were legally unable, even for the more narrowed extension that Biden is now proposing.

Psaki Brushes Off Concerns about Constitutionality of Eviction Moratorium: 'Who's Saying That?'.  During a press briefing Wednesday [8/4/2021], White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki brushed off concerns about the constitutionality of the Biden administration's decision to extend the existing eviction moratorium without congressional approval.  President Biden announced Tuesday that the CDC would extend the eviction moratorium in the areas of the country that have been hardest hit by the resurgence of COVID-19.  After making the announcement, Biden conceded that "the bulk of the constitutional scholars say it's not likely to pass constitutional muster."  When a reporter suggested that many Americans are concerned about Biden's willingness to pursue a constitutionally dubious course of action, Psaki pushed back, suggesting that the reporter was citing non-existent critics.

CNN Makes Itself Complicit in Joe Biden's Flagrant Lawbreaking., which for six long years between 2015 and 2021 turned itself into a blog about Donald Trump and his many excesses, has weighed in on President Biden's decision to take executive action that he knows full well is illegal.  And boy, is it ... a complete whitewashing of flagrant and cynical lawbreaking.  Here's the headline:  ["]Biden shows he's ready to make drastic moves in Covid-19 fight — even if he's not sure they're legal["]  Off to a bad start.  But, hey, headlines can be misleading, so maybe it gets better?  It doesn't.

Biden administration moves to block evictions in most of U.S. following liberal backlash.  The Biden administration announced a temporary ban on evictions across most of the country on Tuesday, a move that bent to intense pressure from liberal House Democrats but that President Biden acknowledged may not prove constitutional.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a moratorium on evictions for 60 days for U.S. counties with "substantial and high levels of community transmission" of the coronavirus, according to an agency news release.  About 90 percent of the country will be covered by the ban as the virus's delta variant spreads quickly throughout the country, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.  The 19-page order lists criminal penalties including fines and jail time if someone is found to have violated the eviction moratorium.

Federal eviction moratorium will end Saturday as Congress fails to pass extension.  A nationwide eviction moratorium is set to expire Saturday [7/31/2021] after President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress worked furiously but ultimately failed to align on a long-shot strategy to prevent millions of Americans from being forced from their homes during a COVID-19 surge.  More than 3.6 million Americans are at risk of eviction, some in a matter of days, as nearly $47 billion in federal housing aid to the states during the pandemic has been slow to make it into the hands of renters and landlords owed payments.

Joe Biden Moves to Bankrupt More Americans and You Can Thank Brett Kavanaugh.  The economic illiteracy of the left never ceases to amaze, and that's certainly true regarding Joe Biden's latest push.  The president is now moving to pressure Congress into extending the so-called "eviction moratorium" that has crippled the housing market and crushed landlords across the country.  This comes after some property owners have not gotten paid rent in over a year while they still have to pay their mortgages.  As you can see, this is really caring and compassionate stuff coming from Joe Biden.  [Tweet]  The absurdity isn't just that this is coming under the guise of an "emergency," but that it's been allowed to happen at all.  On what planet does the CDC or Congress have the constitutional authority to literally steal people's property with no reimbursement?  Yet, that's exactly what's been happening.  In fact, you can find multitudes of left-wing ideologues willing to defend it as a right and just move, citing the supposed evils of landlords.

Federal Court Rules CDC's COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium Is Unlawful.  A federal court on Friday [7/23/2021] ruled that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) overstepped its authority by halting evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Cincinnati-based U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously agreed (pdf) with a lower court ruling that said the CDC engaged in federal overreach with the eviction moratorium, which the agency has consistently extended for months.  Several weeks ago, the CDC announced it would allow the policy, which was passed into law by Congress, to expire at the end of July.  "It is not our job as judges to make legislative rules that favor one side or another," the judges wrote.  "But nor should it be the job of bureaucrats embedded in the executive branch.  While landlords and tenants likely disagree on much, there is one thing both deserve: for their problems to be resolved by their elected representatives."

Dangerous Infrastructure Bill:  Flooding America's Suburbs with High-Density Housing Projects.  Plenty of Americans love the big-city lifestyle; but they are already living in cities.  Many other Americans have chosen big backyards for their kids to play in and to have some privacy.  If you moved into a neighborhood based on certain expectations — whether it was one house on each quarter-acre, half-acre, or acre — you likely do not want that thrown out the window.  With rising crime rates and remote work, people's preferences have actually been shifting to moving even further out in the country, to have even more space than before.  Worse, local governments presumably know what is best for their communities.  That is why communities have local governments rather than a federal government deciding everything for everyone.  If residents desired different zoning, their officials would have already made those changes on their own.  This tells you that the move will most likely be horrifically unpopular among voters of both parties.  That is probably why it is being hidden within a massive bill and not talked about.  The federal government has no power to force this change, but the president has floated withholding federal money that towns rely on for things like roads unless the towns comply.

Biden's Land Grab:  Dramatically Increasing Federal Land Ownership to Fight 'Climate Change'.  Fifteen Republican governors Wednesday [7/7/2021] put the White House on notice regarding concerns over Joe Biden's "30 X 30 Plan," the goal of which is to place 30 percent of U.S. lands under government conservation by 2030.  Right now, only 12 percent of U.S. acreage is under federal ownership and management.  The new plan would infringe on "the private property rights of our citizens and significantly harming our economies," the governors said in a letter sent to the White House.  "We encourage your Administration to focus on better management of the lands the federal government already controls and to be more proactive in working with the states."

Supreme Court Leaves Unlawful, Unconstitutional Eviction Moratorium Intact.  The Supreme Court's decision to leave in place the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's unlawful, unconstitutional eviction moratorium poses a threat to the rule of law, federalism, and fundamental constitutional rights.  Justice Brett Kavanaugh perplexingly agreed with the court majority to leave this moratorium in place, despite acknowledging that the CDC's edict is indeed unlawful.  On Sept. 4, 2020, the CDC banned property owners from commencing the eviction process in courts until the end of 2020.  The CDC subsequently renewed and extended this ban three times.  Not only did the CDC grossly exceed its congressional mandate, but a congressionally authorized eviction moratorium would itself violate the Constitution.  The CDC predicated its edict on the Public Health Service Act, which authorizes regulations "necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission or spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the states or possessions, or from one state or possession into any other" international and interstate spread of communicable diseases.

No, San Francisco Can't Force You To Lease Your Retirement Home To a Renter for Life Says SCOTUS.  Back in April, I wrote about the case of Pakdel v.  City and County of SF, involving the Ninth Circuit decision appealed to the Supreme Court which upheld a San Francisco ordinance that required persons converting rental property into condominiums to offer a lifetime lease to any renter occupying a unit of the property as a condition of the conversion permit. [...] The Pakdels brought suit in federal court in San Francisco on the grounds that the San Francisco ordinance was an unconstitutional "taking" of their property by the City and County of San Francisco without just compensation.  The district court ruled against the Pakdels on procedural grounds — they hadn't brought their action at an appropriate juncture in the conversion process, and that they hadn't followed certain procedures prescribed by the San Francisco ordinance which might have allowed them to avoid the mandatory rental requirement.

Trump Was Right:  The Biden Administration Is Intent on Destroying the Suburbs.  In the name of equity and inclusion, the Biden administration is making moves that target the suburbs with federal regulation. [...] [T]he Biden administration wants people to move from apartments in dense urban areas to apartments in neighborhoods in the suburbs.  Not apartments in suburban towns, which often have a decent selection of apartments and townhomes for rent.  The administration wants apartment buildings in developments zoned for single-family homes.  They will use grants and tax credits as the carrot and eventually pull highway funds through the Booker Amendment as a stick.  These are not the apartments often built in what is termed cradle-to-grave housing.  Several developments in the Atlanta suburbs contain apartments, townhomes, single-family homes, and 55-and-over sections.  They are planned communities where all residents use common areas, except for some reserved just for the active senior population.  The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule (AFFH), an Obama administration policy, has always called for high-density, low-income housing in the suburbs.

Farmer sues after being ordered not to work his farm.  A South Dakota farmer is suing the federal government after its Agriculture Department ordered him not to farm his farm.  It seems the Washington bureaucrats have determined that a mud puddle in one of his fields is a protected "wetlands."  The fight is being taken up by Pacific Legal Foundation.  Arlen Foster's action is against the federal department, Tom Vilsack as secretary, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and others.

Farmers Sue Over Federal Regulation of 'Mud Puddle' on Their Land.  A farming family is suing the federal government over its demand that they leave what the family argues is a mud puddle in the middle of their farm intact because it considers the ground to be a federally protected wetland.  The legal complaint in the case, Foster v. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), was filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in South Dakota.  The lawsuit was filed by the Sacramento, California-based Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), a national public interest law firm.  The puddle is about 0.8 acres in size and roughly eight inches deep.  The family's rights "are being violated by being subjected to federal micromanagement of how they farm in order to protect a mud puddle," Tony Francois, a senior PLF attorney, told The Epoch Times.  "The suit when it is successful will allow them the freedom to use their property as they see best."

The pandemic was planned with the sole purpose of submitting humanity to a New World Order of unprecedented tyrannical control.  [Scroll down]  The essence of this Great Reset is that all debt of every human being would be cancelled, which would save us from the financial devastation resulting from the lockdowns.  Having all your debt cancelled surely sounds like a wonderful solution.  'Thank you globalist elite!'  However, it comes with a price tag.  In return for this 'financial rescue' everyone would have to give up all private property.  From that moment on, nobody would own anything, and we would all rent everything:  cars, houses, etc.

So Long Private Property, We Had a Good Run.  The most liberal cities in the country have continued on their march away from private property rights and to some imagined "collective good." Their class warfare has punished success and the American Dream in exchange for promoting values of which the Soviet Union would be proud.  The "rights" of the criminal now outweigh the rights of private property owners.  Now, out of Denver comes the latest attack on property owners:  Licensing Landlords.  Yes, the Denver City Council has decided that private, fair, and reasonable contracts between two consenting adults require additional government regulation.

Canadian Restaurant Owner Charged With 'Trespassing' [on his own property] After Reopening in Defiance of Lockdown Orders.  At 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, November 24, Adam Skelly opened his BBQ restaurant in Toronto and began serving customers.  Under ordinary circumstances, this would have been unremarkable.  But on that day, it was an act of political defiance, because a recent lockdown order prohibited restaurants like his from providing indoor and outdoor dining services.  Skelly, a 33-year-old husband and father of two, was specifically ordered to close by Toronto Public Health later that day, but he opened again on Wednesday and made it clear that he would continue operating as normal.  Then, early Thursday morning the police changed the locks on the restaurant to bar his access, and when Skelly showed up later that morning he was met by a significant police presence.  Police allowed him into a back part of the building behind the restaurant, but then he and his employees secretly broke into the restaurant from the back and kicked down the newly locked front door.

Fighting Leftists' Assault on American Small Business.  There is a war on small business right now in this country.  The battle lines are tied to the tenets of capitalism and free markets, which value property rights and private ownership of production, versus socialism and communism, which value "workers" and communal or state property.  When we think of property rights, land and home ownership comes to mind.  But it also includes the right to own and operate a business and be the beneficiary of the risks and rewards.  The Marxist goal is to deplete the ranks and efficacy of small business in America and have the remains subsumed by fewer and larger corporations, as well as government.  The next stage will focus on dividing the leadership and workforce in large corporations. [...] Right now the revolutionaries need the titans of industry on their side.  Non-cooperation is synonymous with blasphemy.  Evidence of this was the apoplectic response of the left's messengers when the CEO of Goya Foods did not sing their tune.

Now We'll See How the Snowflake Generation Handles the Barbarians.  The modern urban mayor is epitomized by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who has chosen not to crack down on the barbarians torching his city, but encourages them to keep the flames hot because "The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life."  That laughable, sophomoric statement isn't going to save anyone or any structure.  That building is not a "symbol."  It has value to the person who owns it.  And that's the problem with Frey and the generation of snowflakes who are moving into positions of power and responsibility.  Quite simply, they don't believe in private property.  In fact, they see private property as a genuine evil.  So, of course, it doesn't matter if you burn it.  It's not worth protecting.  We saw this same attitude in Baltimore in 2015 when Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake expressed the notion that protesters should be given space to destroy.

Somewhat related:
Taking Property for Fun and Profit.  After a group of homeless moms simply moved into a vacant three-bedroom house in Oakland owned by a company that invests in local real estate, local progressives turned them into folk heroes.  These women weren't squatters who took something that wasn't theirs, but valiant protesters who were standing up for their communities against — all together now — corporate speculators.  As one of these Oakland moms said, "Housing is a human right.  I pay bills there.  I pay water, PG&E, internet.  We live there.  We want to purchase the home; it needs to belong back in the hands of the community.  It was stolen through the foreclosure crisis."  That certainly puts a new spin on the term "property ownership."

California Farmer Fights Government Claim That Dirt Is a Pollutant.  No one told Jack LaPant that he could be in violation of the Clean Water Act for farming his own land.  That's mostly because the federal law includes a clear exemption for "normal" farming activities.  But it's also because the government officials LaPant consulted didn't view overturned dirt that has been tilled and plowed as pollution.  In 2016, the Army Corps of Engineers, which administers the Clean Water Act with the Environmental Protection Agency, began legal action against LaPant for plowing he did in 2011 to plant wheat on a ranch property he owned in Northern California.

When Bureaucrats Go Bad.  In New Mexico the Forest Service gated off a 23 acre tract of land preventing cattle from using a water hole.  Why?  And in Texas soon after, the Bureau of Land management tried to seize rich ranch land along the Red River.  Few of us will forget the seizure of Clive Bundy's land and cattle in Nevada, and the less publicized effort by the EPA to garnish the taxpayer wages of Americans without a court order.  Or, we can review the IRS attacks on conservative groups like the Tea Party... all under the Obama administration.  These un-elected bureaucrats, the faceless horde, the Deep State, the swamp if you will, the little despots drunk with power and the ability to screw with people's lives, have risen up.  They believe they are the only legitimate government of the United States.  Presidents come and go, but they are forever.

Supreme Court bolsters rights for developers and property owners in California and elsewhere.  The Supreme Court's conservative majority gave a major boost to property rights Friday [6/21/2019], ruling that developers and landowners may go directly to federal court and seek compensation for a "taking" of their property.  The 5-4 decision overturned a 1985 precedent that said property owners may not sue in federal court if their development plans were blocked until they had sought and been denied compensation from local officials or a state agency.  This process often stretched over many years, effectively blocking a development, according to its critics.

Chemotherapy for the Republic.  When bureaucrats embedded in massive administrative agencies wield unchecked regulatory power with no electoral accountability, designating temporary snow melt ponds as national waterways in a bid to control western ranches, metastasis is on display.

Couple must pay nearly $600G for removing oak tree from their property, judge rules.  A judge ordered a Northern California couple this week to pay nearly $600,000 for uprooting an almost 200-year-old oak tree from their property that was protected under a conservation easement.  Peter and Toni Thompson removed the 180-year-old heritage oak tree to move it to another home they built adjacent to the property.  More than 3,000 cubic yards of dirt was also removed in the process.

Environmentalists Have Now Declared War On Our Lawns.  [Scroll down]  "On balance, lawns are awful for the planet," Eric Holthaus wrote last week in Grist, an environmentalist online magazine.  "Our addiction to lawns means that grass is the single largest irrigated agricultural 'crop' in America, more than corn, wheat, and fruit orchards combined," he adds.  "A NASA-led study in 2005 found that there were 63,000 square miles of turf grass in the United States, covering an area larger than Georgia."  Is there no end to the left's screeching sermons, its demands we "do better," the arrogance driven by a sense of moral superiority that believes it can make decisions for others?  While Holthaus admits lawns can be "pleasing," "help reduce the urban heat island effect," "help restore groundwater and reduce urban flooding," and draw carbon dioxide from the air, Grist is much more interested in dispatching a tirade.

The Editor says...
[#1] NASA obviously has nothing important to do.  [#2] If the total area of all the lawns in the U.S. is greater than the area of Georgia, that's surprisingly small, but no matter what the total is, the correct reaction is, So what?  What would the environmentalists prefer that we grow on our private property?  Apparently the definition of "lawn" is an area of grass near a residence that is mowed.  Sure, I'd like to have a rain forest in my back yard, or a couple of 200-foot redwood trees, but the lawn (which is mostly just closely-cropped weeds) will have to do.

Supreme Court ditches Clean Water Act conviction posthumously.  The latest Supreme Court case dealing with alleged violations of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act involved the conviction, upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, of the late Joseph Robertson.  His crime?  Building a firebreak ditch and some ponds on his Montana property.  Robertson, arrested at age 77, was targeted because the government maintains that his protection ponds and narrow ditch located in the northern Montana woods have become increasingly prone to destructive, life-threatening fires.  But the government's claim is suspect.

Catholic farm family fights Michigan city to stay OUT of gay-wedding business.  A city in Michigan is punishing a Catholic farm family because they refuse to allow gay weddings.  The short of it is that this Catholic family was denied entry into the farmers market in East Lansing back in 2016 after the city found out that the Tenneses don't allow gay marriages on their farm.  They had previously been a part of the farmers market for the past 7 years.  Now they are fighting it out in court and hope that the recent victory by Colorado baker Jack Phillips will help them.

Catholic farm family fights to stay out of gay-wedding business with help from Colorado baker.  All Steve and Bridget Tennes want is to sell their apples, peaches and blueberries at a Michigan farmers market without being required to get into the same-sex wedding business, and they are hoping for an assist from Colorado baker Jack Phillips.  The Tenneses, who make their home on the Country Mill Farm with their six children, contend that their Catholic faith has been maligned by East Lansing officials who have sought to bar them from the city's farmers market over their refusal to host same-sex ceremonies on their property.

Nebraska Flooding:  When the Government Cares More about Birds than People.  [Scroll down]  Until 2004, the government kept its end of the bargain, and flooding, while still a danger, was dramatically lessened in frequency and severity by the prudent operation of the dam system and the mechanical restructuring of the river itself.  That last paragraph, while perfectly reasonable to normal folks, is cause for outrage and seething anger among the increasingly radical environmentalist left, which is enamored of a dream of "rewilding" vast sections of North America via the "recovery" of river basins.  One might ask, "Recovery from what?"  In a word, the answer is "man."  Environmental groups like the Sierra Club and American Rivers advocate the wholesale removal of dams, even if it requires the forced relocation of millions of people and their businesses.  They seek a continent with untamed rivers, devoid of human interference with the perceived "natural processes" of ebb and flood.  At this level of green-think, it is more religion than science, with devotion measured in antipathy for the needs of mankind whenever there is conflict with nature.

Veteran Wins 20-Year Fight Against HOA to Fly American Flag on Property.  A U.S. Marine veteran won a 20-year fight against his homeowners' association (HOA) to fly an American flag on his property.  Richard Oulton, a Vietnam veteran of the U.S. Marines who resides in Virginia, began his legal fight against his HOA in 1999, when the HOA told him he had to take down his flagpole because neighbors said his flag caused a disturbance to the community.

Why Trump Must Veto the Federal Land Grab Bill.  President Trump gave one of his most memorable and impactful speeches two weeks ago, when he systematically dismantled the case for socialism.  In that speech, he recalled the economic harm and destruction in nations that have adopted socialism, communism or Stalinism.  "America will never be a socialist country," Trump pledged in his speech in Florida.  Well said.  And the first big step that Trump could take in preventing any slippery slide in that direction would be to veto the Land and Water Conservation Fund bill, which enables the federal government to spend billions to purchase millions of acres of private lands for "conservation."  What?  Uncle Sam is going to take out of private hands millions more acres of America's valuable landmass?  This is the reverse of privatization — it is the nationalization of our nation's farmland, forests, streams and pastures.

Senate passes new national parks deal you've heard nothing about.  Last week, the Senate passed massive public lands legislation that contains a lot of good, but a lot of bad too.  In light of the national emergency for the wall being declared, the Green New Deal, and Democrats running for President, this land deal got little to no news coverage.

Supreme Court Sides with Landowners in Dispute over Frog Habitats.  The Supreme Court on Tuesday [11/27/2018] ruled in favor of Mississippi landowners who were prevented from clearing timber on their land due to state environmental laws designed to protect the habitat of a certain species of frog that has never been spotted on the land in question.  The unanimous decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, set aside a lower-court ruling that held that the land used to grow timber by the lumber company Weyerhauser Co. was rightfully declared a "critical habitat" for the endangered dusky gopher frog.

Butte County Officials Establish "Health Advisory" Predicate To Block All Property Owners From Returning.  Today, Butte County health officials are establishing a the legal predicate to stop residents of Paradise, CA , and surrounding region, from returning to live on their property following the devastating "Camp Fire" wildfire.  The framework surrounds a regional "health advisory"; however, the objective appears to be blocking anyone from returning to live on their property for an undetermined period of time.  This type of big-government intervention is concerning for a myriad of reasons and could likely spur even more people to begin questioning motives: [...]

Michigan brothers face $450,000 in fines for tree removal on their property.  Brothers in Michigan are facing nearly $500,000 in fines for allegedly removing more than 1,400 trees from their 16-acre property without permission, a report on Monday said.  Gary and Matt Percy removed the trees with the intention of creating a Christmas tree farm on the Canton Township plot, their attorney Michael Pattwell told  The attorney said that the land was filled with invasive plants.

The Left is promising to abuse power if they win; voters should take them seriously.  In 2005, the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Kelo v. New London, diminishing Americans' property rights.  The ruling said that governments can seize your home through eminent domain, even if their intention is merely to hand the land over to private developers.  Conservatives saw this as one more bad ruling from a Supreme Court that issued a whole lot of them.  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was a bit more sanguine, and her famous response exemplifies the respect and reverence that liberals once had for the Supreme Court, just so long as it was influencing culture and moving the national conversation in a way they liked.  "It is a decision of the Supreme Court," she said, emphasizing its finality.  "If Congress wants to change it, it will require legislation of a level of a constitutional amendment.  So this is almost as if God has spoken."

Whose Rights Matter More Before The Supreme Court:  A Man's, Or A Frog's?  Suppose for a moment you owned 1,500 acres of land that your family had owned and worked for generations.  Then, out of nowhere, the federal government said you could no longer use that land as you wished.  Why?  Because of a frog.  Would that anger you?

The Justice Department Sues California.  On Monday [4/2/2018], the Department of Justice filed suit against the state of California, challenging a state law that purports to prevent the federal government from selling federal lands without the permission of a state agency.  Passed by the California legislature in October 2017, Senate Bill 50 declares that, with limited exceptions, "conveyances of federal public lands in California are void" unless the State Lands Commission is provided a "right of first refusal" or "the right to arrange for the transfer of the federal public land to another entity."  The statute also prohibits purchasers of federal land from recording the deed to the newly acquired property without an accompanying "certificate of compliance" from the state commission and provides for a $5,000 civil penalty for buyers who violate this provision.

Rent control:
De Blasio eyes vacancy tax for greedy landlords seeking top-dollar.  As a growing number of vacant storefronts dot the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday [3/30/2018] said he wants to penalize landlords who leave the shopfronts sitting empty.  "I am very interested in fighting for a vacancy fee or a vacancy tax that would penalize landlords who leave their storefronts vacant for long periods of time in neighborhoods because they are looking for some top-dollar rent but they blight neighborhoods by doing it," he said on WNYC.  "That is something we could get done through Albany."  A number of recent studies have found retail corridors in prosperous Manhattan neighborhoods are struggling with double-digit vacancy rates, from 27 percent on Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side to 20 percent on a stretch of Broadway in Soho.  Five percent or less is generally considered "healthy."

Now You Can't Paint Over Graffiti On Your Own Building.  If you need to make a couple million dollars and are willing to wait for a while, there's a new way to do it.  First you go buy some cans of spray paint.  Then you get a ladder and go tag somebody's building in New York City.  After a while, the owner will probably try to paint over it or, in some neighborhoods, tear the building down for new development.  When either of those happens, you take the owner to court claiming that it was art.  Finally, the judge awards you the cash.  That should have been the plot of a National Lampoon movie.  Unfortunately, we're talking about New York here, so it's a real story.

Developer must pay $6.7M for destroying iconic graffiti art.  A developer has been tagged with a $6.7 million judgment for whitewashing the "formidable" work of 21 graffiti artists on the iconic 5 Pointz warehouse in Queens.  Brooklyn federal-court Judge Frederic Block on Monday [2/12/2018] angrily ordered developer Gerald Wolkoff — who erased about 45 works overnight in the middle of both sides' court case in 2013 — to cough up the millions.  "The shame of it all is that since 5 Pointz was a prominent tourist attraction, the public would undoubtedly have thronged to say its goodbyes during those 10 months and gaze at the formidable works of aerosol art for the last time," Block wrote in his decision.  "It would have been a wonderful tribute for the artists that they richly deserved."

Divided Lands: State vs.  Federal Management in the West.  There is a great divide in the United States.  Land in the East is mostly privately owned, while nearly half of the land in the West is owned by the federal government.  In recent years, several western states have passed, introduced, or considered resolutions demanding that the federal government transfer much of this land to state ownership. [...] We find that state trust agencies produce far greater financial returns from land management than federal land agencies.  In fact, the federal government often loses money managing valuable natural resources.  States, on the other hand, consistently generate significant amounts of revenue from state trust lands.  On average, states earn more revenue per dollar spent than the federal government for each of the natural resources we examined, including timber, grazing, minerals, and recreation.

California Homeowners Association Forces Residents to Keep Garage Doors Open to Deter Squatters.  While the purpose behind an HOA — to keep the neighborhoods neat and orderly — sounds great, it's important to remember that HOA membership basically means that your neighbors get a say in what you do with your property.  It's not enough to have federal, state, and local governments issuing rules over what you can and can't do.  No, we had to create these petty tyrannies to stick their noses in as well.  Different HOAs have different rules, to be sure, but they all focus on the mundane, trivial stuff.  That's because the people who are attracted to rules like HOA boards and elected offices are people who are often attracted to power in general.

Trump Needs to Transfer All Federal Land Back to the States.  The federal government now has a total of 640 million acres under its control — almost a third of the nation's land.  The majority of land in Nevada, Alaska, Utah, Oregon and Idaho is owned by the feds.  In Arizona, California, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Colorado, federal ownership exceeds a third.  Indeed, if all 11 Western states were combined into one territory, the feds would own nearly 50% of it.  This land is primarily administered by the United States Forest Service (USFS), the National Park Service (NPS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).  The Department of Defense also owns 20 million acres.  But if liberals had their way, even more land would be seized by the feds.

Colorado Attorney General Fights Against Personhood Claim for River.  Colorado's Attorney General's office has asked a federal court to dismiss a "first-of-its-kind" claim filed by members of Deep Green Resistance (DGR), a self-described radical environmental group, requesting the court recognize the Colorado River ecosystem as a legal person with constitutional rights.  The lawsuit, Colorado River Ecosystem/Deep Green Resistance v. the State of Colorado, was filed on September 25, 2017 in the U.S. Federal District Court in Denver.  It asks for recognition of the right of the river to "to exist, flourish, regenerate and naturally evolve."  In addition, the suit requests the court to designate members of Deep Green Resistance to "serve as guardians, or 'next friends,' for the Colorado River ecosystem," allowing them to sue in court on behalf of the river.

Privacy Complaints Mount Over Phone Searches at U.S. Border Since 2011.  They spoke of being humiliated and shaken.  They described being "made to feel like a criminal."  And they maintained that their rights had been violated.  Grievances over lost privacy run through a trove of roughly 250 complaints by people whose laptops and phones were searched without a warrant as they crossed the United States border.  Filed with the Department of Homeland Security since 2011, mostly during the Obama administration, these stories add a personal dimension to a growing debate over rights, security and technology.

California Wildfires Don't Have to be the New Normal.  There have been 8,771 wildfires recorded in Northern and Southern California this year, so far, burning an equivalent of 3,346 square miles. [...] Consider the fact that in the American South, which is much more heavily forested than California, such fires are unheard of.  Might this have something to do with the percentage of land in each region that is publicly owned and managed compared to the land that is privately owned and managed?  When land is privately owned, owners have strong incentives to maintain its long-term value.  In the South, this means that owners monitor their land for concentrations of deadwood that could spark fires.  Especially during dry seasons, controlled burns are very common in the South as the buildup of tinder and other forms of fuel are eliminated so they are less susceptible to lightning strikes or other events that could cause them to burn out of control.  These landowners are acting in their self-interest, because any fire that gets out of control affects their own pocketbook.  But in acting in their own self-interest, they willingly perform actions that serve the social interest too.  This is what's lacking in California, and indeed, all the western states in which a vast majority of the land is owned and managed by federal and state government.

Utah 'Monument' Was a Reward to a Clinton Donor.  The shrinking in size of two national monuments in Utah by President Trump through executive order was a long overdue rebuke to federal land grabs that have enabled federal control of vast swaths of American land, particularly in the West. [...] President Trump, who has unlocked much of America's resources that were formerly held hostage by greenies and others, has decided to return to the people of Utah control of and decision-making power over the land of Utah, so you no longer need permission from a Beltway bureaucrat to pick up a rock and move it one foot to the left.

Trump's Monument Fight.  On Monday [12/4/2017], President Donald Trump visited Utah to announce the largest reductions to national monuments in U.S. history.  His order will shrink two national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, by roughly 2 million acres in total.  The decision has drawn the ire of environmental groups and Democratic legislators but has been applauded by Republican lawmakers and locals who want the land to remain open to multiple uses.  Legal challenges to the action have already been filed.  But for every fit of rage over Trump's executive decision, there is an equal and opposite reaction against the creation of national monuments, in which presidents can restrict land use across vast swaths of the rural West — all without congressional approval.  Whether you agree with Trump's monument reductions or not, it's time to put aside our selective outrage over executive authority and roll back the century-old law that got us into this situation in the first place.

Trump's Plan To Overhaul National Monuments Law Is All About 'Righting Past Overreach'.  When President Donald Trump speaks in Utah on Monday, he will not only be resizing two controversial national monuments, his administration will also be making major changes to how federal lands are managed.  Trump will sign orders to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments as recommended by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.  However, that's only the first step in the administration's plan for the Antiquities Act.  In the coming months, the Department of the Interior (DOI) will begin a larger conversation about how the Antiquities Act of 1906 is implemented once the president designates a national monument, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.

Trump dramatically shrinks Bears Ears National Monument and slashes another by half in the name of 'states' rights'.  President Donald Trump unveiled a plan Monday in Utah to dramatically scale back two national monuments — calling it an important move for 'states' rights.'  'Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington.  And guess what?  They're wrong,' he said in the cavernous Utah Capitol Rotunda in Salt Lake City.  'The families and communities of Utah know and love this land the best.  And you know the best how to take care of your land.  You know how to protect it, and you know best how to conserve this land for many, many generations to come,' he said.

Trump is not 'shrinking a monument', he's reversing a shameless federal land grab.  The media are wetting themselves today because President Trump is "shrinking federal monuments." You'd think he was taking an axe to the Washington Monument and chopping it down.  But there are real monuments and then there are shameless federal land-grabs that get labeled "monuments" before a gullible news media that gladly adopt whatever language a Democratic president uses to spin his actions.  The Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments were just that.  There are elements of these pieces of land that have some historical value, but Bill Clinton and Barack Obama exploited that to declare massive swaths of land part of the "monuments," which put them almost completely under federal control over the objection of the State of Utah and all of Utah's congressional delegation.  There was no cultural purpose to this.  None.  It was strictly an excuse to expand federal control over land.

Americans, Property Rights and the Supreme CourtKelo v.  City of New London stands as the apogee of Supreme Court cases regarding property rights, especially for conservatives.  A narrow 5-4 decision recklessly expanded the scope of eminent domain, allowing private developers and the government to collude and forcibly take private property away from citizens for "public use" under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.  Now the Court is faced with another landmark case on property rights that will once again be a defining moment for conservatives.  Oil States Energy Services, LLC v.  Greene's Energy Group, LLC asks the court to decide the scope and power of the Patent and Trademark Appeals Board (PTAB), and whether this unaccountable government agency can extra-constitutionally extinguish "... private property rights through a non-Article III forum without a jury."

All the News You Are Glad You Missed.  In New York, recently re-elected Mayor Bill de Blasio shared his view of what the electorate wants:  "I think people all over this city, of every background, would like to have the city government be able to determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be.  I think there's a socialist impulse ... that they would like things to be planned in accordance to their needs.  And I would, too. ... If I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land, how development would proceed."  Unfortunately, says the mayor, "Our legal system is structured to favor private property."

Mayor de Bolshevik.  In a wide-ranging and candid interview with New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio casually noted that the "way our legal system is structured to favor private property" provokes his "anger, which is visceral."  The mayor elaborated on this point, insisting that "people all over this city, of every background, would like to have the city government be able to determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be."  The mayor begs the question of who would build anything under these strict conditions.

Bill de Blasio Sure Sounds Like a Communist.  [Scroll down]  So in addition to complaining about a legal system organized around the concept of private property, de Blasio wants the government to "determine every single plot of land, how development would proceed."  That is quite an admission.  However, it's worth noting that de Blasio has been more than willing to cozy up to private developers when it suits his needs and advances his political career.

Is Your Dog 'Contraband'?  An awful ruling for pet owners has come from a federal court, in a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge George Caram Steeh.  But the threat is not just to Fido and Fluffy, because, as anyone familiar with how precedent becomes corrupted knows, the ruling will be cited and abused far beyond its original, flawed bases. [...] In deciding an unlicensed dog is "contraband" not protected by the Fourth Amendment, the ruling confuses government "licenses" with "title," i.e., private ownership and possession.  The ruling will eventually be cited in cases involving property other than dogs and other unlicensed activity in our overly license-happy statist society.

This Is Not The United States.  What is the technical moment when the Constitution failed?  Maybe that goes as far back as Theodore Roosevelt when he decided that it would be a good idea to occupy huge swaths of the Western states.  Make no mistake, these are not states in the same way another state might have 3-5% federally-owned land somewhere as an island in the mass of privately-owned land.  Western states are between 35-85% federally-owned lands.  That is an occupation and I often refer to the Western states as the Occupied States of America.

Supreme Court Limits Rights Of Property Owners.  The Supreme Court constrained the rights of property owners Friday [6/23/2017], establishing a test that favors government officials in assessing the loss of property value caused by government regulations.  Writing for a 5-3 court, Justice Anthony Kennedy explained that state and local officials can combine separate parcels of land in assessing whether local government has effectively seized private property through regulation, requiring compensation.  Kennedy's opinion was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.  Chief Justice John Roberts filed a fiery dissent, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.  The case concerned a Wisconsin family called the Murrs, who argued that the government has unconstitutionally taken their land by refusing to allow them to sell it.

Trump gives land back to Americans.  Presidents use executive orders to declare large patches of lands of limits to development, by designating them as memorials and the like.  For example, Barack Obama declared 1.35 million acres of Utah off limits last December because it is allegedly is an area sacred to a few Indians.  No hearing.  No vote by our representatives in Congress.  Just a lame-duck president with a pen deciding the fate of an area larger than Rhode Island.

Oregon Man Sentenced to 30 Days in Jail — for Collecting Rainwater on His Property.  A rural Oregon man was sentenced Wednesday [3/29/2017] to 30 days in jail and over $1,500 in fines because he had three reservoirs on his property to collect and use rainwater.  Gary Harrington of Eagle Point, Ore., says he plans to appeal his conviction in Jackson County (Ore.) Circuit Court on nine misdemeanor charges under a 1925 law for having what state water managers called "three illegal reservoirs" on his property — and for filling the reservoirs with rainwater and snow runoff.

Seattle Takes a National Lead in Robbing Landlords of Basic Rights.  With a heavy-handed new law that is the first of its kind in the nation, Seattle has set its regulatory crosshairs on landlords, attempting to police their inner thoughts and eliminate the possibility that their decisions could be motivated by "implicit" or unintended bias.  Known as the "first in time" rule, the mandate forces landlords to rent to the first qualified applicant, rather than choosing the best fit from among prospective tenants.  Sponsors contended that this unprecedented restriction is needed because traditional anti-discrimination laws do not protect against unconscious prejudices.

Airbnb and Property Rights Don't Go Together.  For defenders of the so-called "sharing economy," companies like the housing-sharing website Airbnb and the ride-sharing app Uber are near-sacred.  In the case of Uber, "sharing" enthusiasts argue that the company is a symbol of disruption against an anticompetitive status quo.  In the case of Airbnb, it offers a similar defense, with the added point that Airbnb hosts are simply exercising their property rights to get more value out of their homes.  Certainly, these people have a point about Uber.  But when it comes to Airbnb, the "disruption" involved does more harm than good.  Why?  Because contrary to the claim that Airbnb strengthens property rights, in a huge number of cases, that is anything but true.

Obama Issues More Last-Minute National Monument Designations.  President Barack Obama announced Thursday evening [1/12/2017] the unilateral creation of three new national monuments to honor America's civil rights history, along with adding tens of thousands of acres to two existing West Coast monuments.  Obama announced the creation of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument in and Freedom Riders National Monument in Alabama.  Obama also created the Reconstruction Era National Monument in South Carolina using his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

Oregon Couple Told They Have No Water Rights, Forced to Destroy Their Own Pond.  Remember the Oregon 'Rain Man' or Gary Harrington — who was sent to 30 days in Jackson County Jail and slapped with a $1,500 fine for collecting rainwater on his 170-acre property?  He was ordered to breach his dams and drain his ponds that held more than 13 million gallons of water, enough to fill 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.  Now, an Oregon couple faces a similar fate as Gary Harrington because the rain belongs to the overbearing government, because corporate greed claims water is not a human right, and because Americans are not entitled to do what they please on their private property.

Ranchers spar with Obama over new national monuments in Utah and Nevada.  With the exception of his time spent serving in the Army during the Vietnam War, Sandy Johnson has spent most of his 67 years running cattle in southeastern Utah's starkly beautiful San Juan County.  Like many of his fellow ranchers, Johnson has leased land from the federal government for decades to graze his cattle on open range.  But President Obama's recent establishment of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada has caused Johnson and his neighbors to worry that the land his family's cattle has grazed on for generations may soon be off limits and that the landscape he has spent his entire life working may be inexorably changed.  "I think this land should have stayed open to everyone and not be regulated by the federal government," Johnson told

Obama seizes yet another 1.65 million acres of American land for the feds.  In a bold rebuke of Utah's entire congressional delegation, President Obama seized nearly 1.35 million acres of land in southeastern Utah to create the Bears Ears Monument in San Juan County, Utah, this week.  Obama also claimed 300,000 acres in Clark County, Nev., as the Gold Butte National Monument.  For months, Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Congressmen Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah and Rob Bishop, R-Utah were vocal in their opposition to President Obama unilaterally designating over a million acres of their state's land as a national monument, without any input from any elected officials.

What the Third Amendment Teaches about Individual Rights and Responsibilities.  I don't think I've ever heard anyone say that the Third Amendment is their favorite one — not even the most geeky law student I have known.  Honestly, no one pays it much attention.  The Third Amendment reads:  "No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law."  Most people have heard of the idea that "a man's home is his castle."  This is a phrase used by Englishman Sir Edward Coke, indicating a basic right of home and property that government should not infringe upon ("et domus sua cuique tutissimum refugium").  Our homes are not only our legal, physical property, but our refuge — something much more than what is today called a "safe space."

Texas Ranchers Cry Foul as Government Eyes Their Land.  The Bureau of Land Management is claiming huge swaths of land near the Red River.  The land's owners are suing to keep it.

Family fights government in land dispute near Area 51.  Joe Sheahan is in the fight of his life to save his family's Nevada mine from being swallowed up by the federal government's mysterious Area 51.  Technically, Sheahan's family no longer even holds title to Groom Mine, which it owned for 130 years.  The federal government took the deed through eminent domain after first offering the Sheahans $333,300, a price family lawyer James Leavitt called "embarrassingly low."  The family is fighting back in federal court, but if the Sheahans and Uncle Sam can't agree on a value, it could wind up before a jury.  Possibly more interesting is what the federal government wants with a parched stretch of rural Nevada desert and an old mine that hasn't been active in decades.  The area is known for two of the feds' most closely guarded secrets:  nuclear testing and UFOs.

Feds Usurp Housing Authority to Fight "Racism".  The federal government is using the concept of "sustainable development" to usurp complete and unchallengeable control over housing in the United States.  There is one group of patriots, however, that refuses to stand idly by while the fundamental right to property is abolished by the bureaucracy.  Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the federal agency leading the attack against property rights and against local, accountable self-government after the fashion favored and established by our ancestors.  John Anthony of Sustainable Freedom Lab recognizes the threat and is warning his countrymen about the scope and severity of the federal assault.

Grinding Westerners Under the Federal Boot.  The federal government owns an estimated one-third of all the land in the United States.  But this is only a rough estimate, because even the federal government does not actually know how much land it controls.  For those living on the East Coast who rarely encounter federal land, this may not seem like an important issue, but in western states, the vast amounts of land owned or controlled by the federal government are among the most important issues that states must face.  And the Obama administration is using the power of that land ownership to grind westerners under the federal boot, a kind of neo-feudalism where an absentee landlord federal government keeps western states and the citizens who live there as vassals and serfs.

On Transgender Restrooms and All Similar Matters, Let Property Owners Decide.  As a people, we seem largely incapable of allowing each other to live according to our individually chosen values.  When Jim Crow laws dictated segregation in the last century, it wasn't enough to merely repeal those laws.  We had to err in the other direction.  We had to dictate integration.  From that era rose the modern concept of "public accommodation," an insidious claim against the property and association rights of others.  When you open a business, the theory goes, you yield your authority over the venue where it is housed.  You must, under the force of law, do business with people you may not want to do business with, and on terms that you may not agree to.  Why?  Because discrimination is bad.  But is it?

Obama's Eleventh Hour Land Grab.  These last several months of the Obama presidency may be the most dangerous time in America's history, at least domestically.  Having nothing to lose and with time waning, Obama is throwing all caution to the wind as he attempts to push as much of his radical anti-freedom agenda as is possible before his tenure comes to a close.  A large part of his or any anti-freedom agenda is the confiscation of wealth and property from the private sector and Obama is leaving no stone unturned in his want to do so.  CFact is reporting on just one of his parting shot land grabs:  the "Endangered Species Act" (ESA). [...] He has ordered the like-minded autocrats at the Interior Department to get busy rewriting and making new rules and regulations to further strengthen the ESA — and weaken us.

The Regulation That Drastically Infringes Landowners' Rights.  On March 30, the Supreme Court heard arguments in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v.  Hawkes Co.  This case is one of a collection of land use cases that trickle into the Court from time to time, all representing the same problem:  The Clean Water Act drastically limits the rights of landowners to build or develop on land that constitutes "waters of the United States" (WOTUS).  Unfortunately, the term "waters of the United States" is left undefined.  This leads to what, in many cases, appears to be "interpretation via whim" by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — the agency tasked with issuing regulations to implement the Clean Water Act.  The Corps of Engineers regulations are notoriously ambiguous, complex, and expensive to comply with.  According to one study, obtaining a permit costs an average of $270,000 and takes more than two years.

BLM Tyranny.  According to Article I, Section 8, aside from adding territory as spoils from war, the only way the federal government can own property is if they "purchase" it with the "consent" of the State legislature for the purpose of "needful buildings."  Much of the land west of the Mississippi River owned by the federal government was not obtained in either manner.  As a result, the Bureau of Land Management unconstitutionally regulates/manages (or should I say "mismanages") a massive portion of the United States.  Confrontations have emerged in Nevada and Oregon, of late, with the Bundy name attached to both situations.  The iron grip by the federal government on these lands has led to limitations on land use, be it for grazing, farming, timber or other uses that in our short history as a country was not so much of a concern not very long ago.  According to Ken Ivory, a Republican state representative from Utah, the land belongs to the ranchers, and farmers, and ultimately to the citizens.  "This land is your land," he says, "and not the federal government's."

Stopping a land grab.  The Supreme Court will decide Friday [2/26/2016] whether to review an appeals court decision enabling the most blatant federal land grab since the federal government broke a treaty with the Cherokee Nation to seize millions of acres of Cherokee land in Oklahoma at the end of the 19th century.  The American Farm Bureau, an association of farmers, has sued the Environmental Protection Agency to restrain the agency from assuming the authority to say whether and how a farmer can plant crops on his own property.  Further, it would prevent the EPA from using the decision as precedent to seize new authority over private property anywhere.

EPA Goes After Low-Income Farmers In Land Grab.  The Supreme Court says the Clean Water Act is not a grant of federal control over every stream and depression in the nation.  The Environmental Protection Agency says otherwise.

Don't Fence Us In: Western States Seek Return of Land From D.C..  According to the United States Geological Survey, nearly half the land in the Western United States is owned by the federal government.  This includes 84.9 percent of land in Nevada (hiding UFOs requires lots of space), 64.9 percent of Utah, 61.6 percent of Idaho, 61.2 percent of Alaska, 52.9 percent of Oregon, 48.1 percent of Wyoming, and 45.8 percent in California.  Meanwhile, the federal government owns only about 5 percent of the land in states east of the Mississippi River.  Altogether, Uncle Sam owns roughly 640 million acres of land.

How John Adams Predicted Bernie Sanders and His Acolytes.  [Scroll down]  Imagine (though imagination may very well not be required) that you "own" your home and the land upon which it sits.  Imagine, however, that you do not pay the government an annual duty, called property tax, for your having squatted on that land with your family over the past year.  Now, consider that government agents with guns can come to your home to arrest and jail you if you don't pay, or even kill you if you resist the coerced payment of that required tribute.  In what sense do you "own" this property?  The point is that our property, including the wealth which is the fruits of our trades, is no longer our property first and above all, protected as a right of man by a government which was initially designed to do just that.  It is, rather, only our property insofar as our neighbors have decided, through popular votes, to allow us to keep.

Trump tramples core conservative belief in property rights.  Property ownership exists in some form in every nation, but it is often informal.  Even in the most unfree nations, the powerful elite feel secure about what they own, in part because the property rights of others are theirs to trample.  What distinguishes America from such countries is not its abundance of natural resources or the race of its people, but its scrupulous cultural and legal dedication to protecting everyone's private property rights.  This critical application of the rule of law is what allowed a massive middle class to form and grow on a scale unprecedented in history.

Standoff in Oregon Centers on Land Ownership and Control.  Understanding the resistance to federal agencies currently shown in headlines and newscasts nationwide should begin with a reading of the U.S. Constitution.  A good look at the venerable document will lead to the conclusion that the federal government's numerous bureaus and agencies are illicitly controlling vast parcels of land, mostly in the 12 western states.  They are doing so without constitutional authority.  The amount of federal land holdings in 12 western states adds up to 47 percent of their total area.  Federal control over parcels of land in the eastern states exists as well, although ownership in the east is not nearly as widespread.  In states east of the Mississippi River, the federal government possesses only four percent of the land.

The Federal Government Should Follow the Constitution and Sell Its Western Lands.  "Time and again [the president] preached cooperation and partnership. ... And time and again he was the first to ignore his own call," says the governor of Colorado.  Wyoming's governor complains:  "The federal system is badly out of kilter.  Federal encroachments on state and local governments are at an all-time high."  The governor of Arizona fumes:  "What galls westerners is ... the federal insistence that it is entitled to act not only as landowners, but also as sovereign."  Adds Colorado's governor:  "[Government bureaucrats] can't figure out whether they're landlord or king," as they "steamroll state agencies, ride roughshod over regional water rights, and destroy environmental laws [in an] arrogant nullification of 200 years of constitutional history."  These are the impassioned words, not of today's western governors, but instead of governors from nearly four decades ago, Democrats all, objecting to the policies of President Jimmy Carter.

Property Rights and Religious Liberty.  Many Christians, while they cherish religious liberty, seem to believe that property rights, and the commerce that arises from the establishment of property rights, are somehow un-Christian.  At the same time, a lot of free marketers seem to think that all we need are property rights and the rest will take care of itself.  Neither of these views is correct, and I will explain why with reference to both James Madison and Winston Churchill.

The Massive, Empty Federal Lands of the American West.  In most of the Northeast and South, where the only federal presence is the occasional military base or national park, complaints that the government owns too much land seem laughable.  But out west, the government lays claim to huge, state-sized swaths of land — more than 630 million acres, greater than the landmass of Texas, California, Florida and New York combined.  In some states, government agencies are the biggest landowner; in Nevada, 80 percent of land is federally owned.

Red River Landowners Take Battle with Feds to Court.  Seven families are suing the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in federal district court, accusing the agency of perpetrating an "arbitrary seizure" of land along a 116-mile strip of the river, whose meandering has spurred a century's worth of property disputes along the Texas-Oklahoma border.  Wichita, Clay and Wilbarger counties — and the Clay County sheriff — have also signed onto the suit, filed late Monday [11/16/2015] in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.  The group is bringing firepower from Austin.  Lawyers from the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the state's pre-eminent conservative think tank, are representing the North Texans on the foundation's dime.

Hammond Family Declared as Terrorist and Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison.  Our hearts and prayers go out to the Hammond family with deep empathy.  The magnitude of the injustices dealt to them is hard to comprehend.  Their once happy lives have been forever darkened with pains of corruptions.  The nature of their sentencing proves once again that justice is currently not found in the federal courts.  The Hammonds are a simple ranching family that for generations has cared for the land they live upon.  Prescribed burns are a vital process in keeping the land healthy and productive in the area.  The BLM also performs prescribed burns and have let it get out of control many times, but never has it cost any federal agent hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and years of life in prison.

Two members of Oregon's Hammond family to serve time in prison after burning 140 acres of BLM land.  "I call it 'as the sagebrush burns,'" said Erin Maupin of the long and storied history involving the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), special interest groups and the cattle ranchers on the Steens Mountain of Oregon.  The latest scene involved two ranchers being sentenced to five years in federal prison for inadvertantly burning about 140 acres of BLM rangeland in two separate fires, years ago.  That is an area big enough to feed about three cow-calf pairs for a year in that neck of the woods.  Dwight, 73 and son Steven, 46, admitted in a 2012 court case, to lighting two different fires.  Both fires started on Hammonds' private property.

'That Devil Wilkes'.  General warrants that named a crime but no criminals had been the last remnant of an era before the Magna Carta when "divinely inspired" monarchs wielded absolute power over English subjects.  They allowed the king to invade any home, seize any person, and search any papers — all without probable cause or anything approaching due process.  But now, after Wilkes's victory spelled their demise, England truly was a constitutional monarchy.  "Every innocent man" could, in Wilkes's words, "sleep in peace and security in his own house, unviolated by the king's messengers, and the arbitrary mandates of an overbearing secretary of state.  When James Madison drafted the Bill of Rights and introduced it in the First Congress, no case was more famous in America than John Wilkes's trespass suit against Lord Halifax and his messengers.

Florida officials back off land restriction, thanks to property-rights watchdog.  Martin County officials have decided they will not levy $1,000 daily fines against the Flash Beach Grille restaurant for violating a decades' old, unrecorded environmental property restriction.  Never mind the local government's beef stemmed from its own mistake, or that enforcing the fines was probably against state law.  Robert and Anita Breinig, the restaurant's owners, can now move forward with their business, and their lives.

Feds Declare Mouse Endangered, Family Might Lose Everything.  A family's livestock enterprise in New Mexico is in danger of being completely shut down now that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared the meadow jumping mouse to be an endangered species, Watchdog reports.  The new regulations came into effect from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last month, and as a result, the U.S. Forest Service is considering installing 8-foot high fences to protect the mouse, which would permanently prevent the Lucero family's livestock from grazing.  The family is already in possession of grazing permits from the federal government, but the permits become irrelevant in the event that a new species is declared endangered.  The Lucero family has had their livestock graze on the land in the Santa Fe National Forest for more than a century, starting first with sheep, but then switching to cattle in the 1920s.

National Park Service seeks to ease tensions with Point Reyes farmers.  Point Reyes National Seashore is unusual among U.S. parks.  Its shimmering coastline and velvety hillsides make for a majestic Marin County landscape — and its two dozen commercial dairy farms and ranches make for one of the nastiest disagreements in the national park system.  Farmers and ranchers here have a list of grievances against a federal government they say burdens their operations with needless red tape.  Worse, they believe park officials secretly want to force them to shut down, and they complain that little has been done to rein in tule elk that graze on land meant for livestock.

Western States Want Feds to Surrender "Federal" Land.  Elected officials from across the American West, from top lawmakers to county commissioners, held a historic gathering in Utah in recent days to discuss how Western states could wrest control of the almost 50 percent of land in the region currently claimed by the federal government.  Aside from constitutional concerns — with a few exceptions, the U.S. Constitution does not authorize ownership or control over land by the political class in Washington, D.C. — the Western leaders and legislators cited economic harm, environmental degradation, loss of tax revenue, and numerous other reasons for the effort.

EPA power grab? Pols, states claim new water reg could bring feds into your backyard.  The concern is that the move could give the feds authority over virtually any stream or ditch, and hand environmentalists another way to sue property owners.  In other words, critics say, the government might soon be able to declare jurisdiction over a seasonal stream in your backyard.

Obama announces $100M in education grants.  President Obama has announced $100 million in grants to help better prepare high school students to compete in the global economy.

The Editor says...
I wonder where Mr. Obama thinks the money will come from.  Or does it matter?

Lawmakers Urge Administration to Stop EPA Takeover of Ponds, Ditches, Streams.  Lawmakers are urging Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and the White House to put the brakes on rulemaking that would drastically expand the agency's jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.  The redefinition of "waters of the United States" would include all ponds, lakes, wetlands and natural or manmade streams that have any effect on downstream navigable waters — whether on public lands or private property. [...] In a fast-tracking move, the EPA sent its draft rulemaking proposal to the White House for approval before the scientific study on which the changes are based was peer reviewed.

EPA Stealthily Propels Toward 'Massive Power Grab of Private Property Across the U.S.'.  While the country is immersed in Obamacare headlines and a congressional tussle over delays and mandates, the Obama administration is stealthily moving toward unprecedented control over private property under a massive expansion of the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Water Act authority.  The proposed rule, obtained by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee in advance of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy's testimony at a Thursday [11/14/2013] oversight hearing, widely broadens the definition of waterways over which the federal government has jurisdiction to as little as a water ditch in a backyard.

Virginia Farmer Starts Rights Legal Revolution.  Long and growing is the list of property rights abuses by federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.  Even at the state level, wetlands and other laws are being used to invade and destroy private property rights. [...] Private property owners can go bankrupt litigating to defend and protect their property rights, and government bureaucrats and lawyers rely on that as part of their strategy to push their extortive agendas.

GOP accuses EPA of 'unprecedented' power grab with proposed water rule.  Two Republican lawmakers on the House Science Committee are accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of pushing through a rule that could potentially expand the agency's regulatory authority over streams, wetlands and other bodies under the Clean Water Act.  Reps. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Chris Stewart, R-Utah, on Friday [10/18/2013] sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy expressing concern over the proposed draft rule, which they say would give the agency "unprecedented control over private property across the nation."

Hijacking Rights.  The original Founders' concepts of rights were strictly political rights.  They were a moral concept of enabling individual freedom of action in a social context.  Our founding documents protected our natural right to our own life, the right to be left alone, to be free to act without asking for permission, and to be free from the force of others.  Included in these rights were property rights.  They were not the right to goods but the right to pursue goods through your own individual action.  There was no guarantee that you would earn any property but if you did earn it, you would own it.

Raisin farmers in SCOTUS case face $650K charge if they don't give half their crop to the feds.  Luckily, the Supreme Court decided to take the case of the Horne family, so they may end up etaining the right to freely sell the raisin crop they've duly produced, but how is it that they must appeal to the highest court in the land for that right?  Well, it all started in 1937, as so many good things do, when the federal government began requiring raising [sic] farmers to lay aside a  tribute  portion of their crops in order to control supply and price.

Court Silences Man Who Painted Protest Sign on His House.  William Bowden painted "Screwed by the Town of Cary" on his house after a road-widening project (allegedly) directed runoff onto his property, damaging his North Carolina home.  Within hours, zoning officials paid him a visit, ordering him to remove the sign or pay fines of up to $500 for each day of noncompliance.  When Bowden sued, the town argued the sign was a safety hazard for passing motorists.  Officials presented no evidence for this assertion — no studies or experts.  An estimated 15,000 drivers passed the sign every day for months and, according to court testimony, had precisely zero accidents.

Turning America's water into Big Green's elite empire.  Two weeks ago, outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar named the White River — which cuts 722 miles through its 17.8 million-acre watershed, crossing 60 counties in Arkansas and Missouri — as the second National Blueway.  What exactly, we should ask, is a National Blueway?  In short, it's the focus of the biggest federal land grab in American history.

Virginia vintners taste the police state.  While the Obama administration is busy eviscerating private property rights at the federal level, Republican-controlled Fauquier County, Va., has decided to follow suit in its own way.  Fauquier's Board of Supervisors recently passed a winery ordinance that tramples private property rights and some fundamental civil liberties.  The county, which is located about an hour west of Washington, calls itself an agricultural community.  Its scenic, sprawling farmlands have become home to a growing number of wineries.  Vintners have discovered that Fauquier's climate and rich soil are ideal for growing grapes.  Most of the wineries are mom and pop operations.  Some, though, have been more creative in marketing, employing more people, and generating revenue.  The county thinks such success must be punished.

The EPA's Property Wrongs in America.  The EPA said the Feds didn't have to explain their rationale to the Sacketts, and that the Sacketts didn't even merit a day in court to defend the property they'd purchased.  The Sacketts couldn't argue that the property wasn't wetlands, as the EPA claimed, or that these wetlands and the lake itself had no connection to navigable waters, as "navigable waters of the United States" means you can conduct commercial trade on the water from state to state.  Why didn't they merit their day in court?  Because the EPA said so — saying they aren't entitled. ... The U.S. district and appellate courts have ruled that the Sacketts must wait until the EPA decides to sue them — and can claim millions of dollars in fines — before they can get a day in court.

Serfs in Warrenville.  Elizabeth Warren is unsurprisingly a lawyer, even less surprisingly, a Harvard Law professor, still less surprisingly, she had a string of government appointments on influential committees.  Her resume is representative of how unrepresentative Harvard lawyers with government connections are to the people on whose behalf they claim to have abolished private property.

Washington Wants Even More Acres To Mismanage.  The next Congress should enact a moratorium on land nationalization.  The feds should stop fleecing exhausted taxpayers for fresh billions to purchase new acreage for Uncle Sam to mismanage.  Washington, D.C. already lords over some 650 million acres, or 29 percent of America's land.  The federal government owns 45.3 percent of California, 48 percent of Arizona, 57.45 percent of Utah, 69 percent of Alaska, and 84.5 percent of Nevada.  No state from the Rockies west is less than 30 percent federal, as are Montana and Washington.  But that is not enough.

How Obama Is Locking Up Our Land.  Have you heard of the "Great Outdoors Initiative"?  Chances are, you haven't.  But across the country, White House officials have been meeting quietly with environmental groups to map out government plans for acquiring untold millions of acres of both public and private land.  It's another stealthy power grab through executive order that promises to radically transform the American way of life.

Independence and the Right to Private Property.  The right to private property was one of the central issues involved in the American Revolution.  The colonists' cries of "taxation without representation" were but protests of what they saw as an unjust taking of private property.

Preserving our history ... of respect for property rights.  For five years, [Sherwood] Duvall has been fighting the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission's determination that his farm should be a "protected" historic site.  County regulators say the set of farm buildings on his property are historically and architecturally significant.  "There's nothing historical about it," Duvall counters.  "It is just old."

Every Drop of Water in America.  Some in the federal government want to exert control over ... every drop of water in America.  It is an attack on private property and it is emblematic of the real agenda of environmentalists.  It is Communism.  The American Land Rights Association recently issued a notice.  "Having been slapped down by the U.S. Supreme Court's two recent decisions that the words 'navigable waters' in the Clean Water Act limited federal agencies to regulation of navigable waters only, Democrats and liberal Republicans in Congress are striking back."

Salazar:  No 'secret agenda' at Interior Department on land protection.  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday [3/3/2010] vowed to work with Congress on conservation, denying accusations by western Republicans of a "secret" Interior plan to designate vast tracts of land as national monuments through executive branch power.

White House Land Grab.  You'd think the Obama administration is busy enough controlling the banks, insurance companies and automakers, but thanks to whistleblowers at the Department of the Interior, we now learn they're planning to increase their control over energy-rich land in the West.

We've legalized theft in America.  I have been looking through a new study, released by an organization called the Property Rights Alliance, called the International Property Rights Index.  The study examines 115 nations worldwide and examines the correspondence between prosperity in a country and how secure private property is there.  It shows a practically perfect correlation.  The more secure private property is in a given country, the more prosperous it is.

National Heritage Areas Are Federal Power Grab, Pork Scheme.  Supporters of new National Heritage Areas have the public will precisely backward:  Americans want stronger property rights protections and less pork-barrel spending — not more earmarks to programs that harm property rights.

The Great Green Land Grab.  All across America, various environmental organizations are engaged in schemes to deter development such as housing, new energy plants, or the horror of a manufacturing facility that might actually employ people.  In some states, the attack has been on farms and ranches, finding ways to punish their owners for improving their land in any fashion such as digging a drainage ditch.

Heritage Areas vs. Property Rights.  Historical preservationists are encountering opposition from conservative activists, who see the rapid growth in congressionally created heritage areas as a backdoor way to restrict property owners' rights to develop their land as they see fit.

Supreme Court Issues Murky Decision in Wetlands Case.  While the Court found that federal agencies have overstepped their bounds in regulating wetland development under the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Court issued an ambiguous ruling, missing a golden opportunity to clearly define the scope of, and provide a check on the federal government's authority to regulate private property.

Texas Farmers Take Water War to Canada.  More than 40 Texas farmers, ranchers and irrigation districts are gearing up to take their long-standing water war with Mexico to the next level, which in this case is a Canadian judge.  Texas Comptroller Susan Combs came to the Rio Grande Valley for a pep talk Tuesday [2/5/2008], to reinvigorate farmers who have been fighting for three years and running up legal bills of almost $500,000.  "You roll over now and you won't be in good shape," Combs told a room full of farmers and ranchers.

Oh, No.  John Turner For Under Secretary of Interior.  You can have a say in who is the next Secretary of the Interior!  The Green are planning to take back the position.  Great favorite John Turner is being considered for the position of Under-Secretary of the Interior to replace Steven Griles.  The idea is to have Gale Norton resign in the next two years and move Turner up to Secretary of Interior.  Thousands of landowners and Federal land users worked hard in 2001 to head off Turner.  Now you must do it again.

2001 Clinton logging plan challenged.  The Wyoming attorney general and an environmental lawyer challenged the legitimacy of a 2001 Clinton administration logging plan Wednesday [5/4/2005] before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.  The plan set aside 58 million acres nationwide as roadless areas in which logging is prohibited.  It also barred the U.S. Forest Service from maintaining roads in those areas.

Australian homeowners may be forced to turn houses green before sale.  The Master Builders Association wants laws to make it compulsory for owners of all existing homes to meet minimal environmental standards before they are allowed to sell them.

Acts of emergency.  It's quite a bite out of the future, for the sake of the past. ... [A] stupid and intrusive law, a usurpation, nothing more than plunder tarted up as a never-ending history lesson, how could it be construed as an emergency?  Yes, that's how the august Oregon state senators labeled their legislation.

America sold out.  For nearly 200 years, governments in America rarely bought private property, except "...for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings," as specified in the U.S. Constitution.  In the last 30 years, however, all governments — federal, state, and local, — have gone on a buying spree, gobbling up land everywhere, to protect and preserve, which, incidentally, is not one of the purposes authorized by the Constitution.  One day, Americans could wake up to find themselves renters in their own country.

Land Use and Zoning:  Churches across the nation are increasingly facing discrimination from local zoning authorities with respect to location or improvement of their facilities.  Zoning Boards often want to eliminate churches from downtown and commercial areas because churches do not generate retail and tax revenue.  They also attempt to restrict churches in residential areas for allegedly creating traffic and noise problems.  The result has been that our nation's houses of faith have their freedom to worship where and how they choose violated by ignorant or hostile zoning officials.

South Dakota landowners dodge a bullet.  Since 1973, South Dakota law had barred hunting on private property without the owners' permission and recognized the right of owners to deny entry to all others.  Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court has held consistently that firing weapons over or onto private property is a physical invasion, which, in turn, is an unconstitutional taking, a taking "for public use" without "just compensation."

Do we have a right to our property — or not?  There always are people trying to carve crevices in constitutional terminology to allow scope for despotism.  Such carving is occurring in Connecticut.

Can Government Seize Your Property to Give to Someone Richer?  Can local government officials boot working-class citizens and the elderly out of their homes or small businesses so that their properties can be sold on the cheap to higher tax-generating shopping malls and business complexes?  In many cities across America the answer is yes.  But is it constitutional?

The left's vision:  Santa Monica, California, has decreed a fine of $2,500 a day for not cutting your hedges!  Has someone discovered some terrible health hazard or other danger from hedges that are too high?  Not at all.  The politicians who run Santa Monica have simply decided that people should not be able to build a high wall of hedges around themselves.

Klamath water crisis was a painful betrayal.  When the federal government shut off irrigation water on April 6, 2001, to 220,000 acres of farmland and two wildlife refuges to "protect" a pair of bottom-feeding suckerfish species and Coho salmon — so plentiful [that] U.S. Fish and Wildlife workers were clubbing them to death elsewhere — it forever changed the face of controversial Endangered Species Act and people's lives.

Science and the Environment:  There is a deliberate and quite outspoken attack on the whole idea of people owning private property.  Mr. William Riley, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has said publicly on a number of occasions that he does not believe that people should have the right to own private property.

The "Land Grab" act passes.  The CARE Act of 2003 has been dubbed the "Land Grab Act" due to Sections 106 and 107 which give tax advantages to environmental green groups like The Nature Conservancy (TNC).  Under these sections, sellers get a 25% break on capital gains tax — but only if they sell the land to an "environmental" or "conservation" group (or the government).  This will discourage competition among bidders and lower prices for land, since TNC can come in with a lower price due to the tax break.  Not that lower prices hurt the greens — they just sell it back to the land-hungry government at a profit.

The Great National Land Grab:  The National Heritage Areas program is an expensive, insidious attempt by non-governmental organizations and federal agencies to impose land use controls and zoning mandates on unsuspecting local communities.

Wyoming Man Asserts Claims Against U.S. Forest Service.  A Wyoming man, who has been sued by the United States in an attempt by the U.S. Forest Service to seize land for use as a federal trail, today formally entered the lawsuit. … The land now claimed by the United States and the subject of the lawsuit was used as a railroad right-of-way from February 1904 until September 1995, when it was abandoned by the railroad company; all tracks and ties were removed by 2000.  The United States asserts that, under the federal Rails-to-Trails Act, it may negate the reversionary interest held by Mr. Brandt.

Government Workers:  Working Hard or Hardly Working?  Because of oddities in federal land law, the federal government could eject Donald Eno him from his property, if it can prove that his claim has no value or that it is more valuable for use as a sacred, scenic, or geological site.  Fortunately, [this time, an] administrative law judge rejected the testimony of the Forest Service employees and ruled for Mr. Eno.

National Heritage Areas:  The War Over Words.  The Founders did not intend that property rights be traded among special interest and government groups at whim, but are rather were to be protected by the Constitution against the grasp of radical Greens and pandering politicians.

The high cost of busybodies:  Part II.  The Constitution of the United States says that private property cannot be taken by the government without just compensation.  When the government destroys half the value of someone's property, that is the same thing economically as taking half of that property.

National Park Service Is Eliminating Orick, California.  The California town of Orick, located about 60 miles south of the California-Oregon border at the south end of Redwood National Park, is well on its way to becoming a modern-day ghost town.

U.N. now controls most of Alabama.  Only a handful of the people who gathered at the Birmingham Hilton on April 8, 2003, knew that the objective of the meeting was to implement U.N. policy in Alabama.  The meeting in Birmingham was to satisfy the requirement to provide for public input to a plan, the outcome of which was decided years ago.

Property rights guaranteed by Constitution:  Today people all over our country are fighting for their Constitutional right to own and use their property, as prescribed by our Bill of Rights.  Over the past 15 years here in Prince William County we have had several instances of Constitutional abuse, where a landowner was denied use of his property due to relentless, local, no-growth activists and "influenced" government action.

How the Western Cattlemen Created Property Rights.  As portrayed in countless stories and movies, the industry involved anarchic conflict and rampant violence, a depiction untrue to historical reality for the most part.  As Terry L. Anderson and Peter J. Hill have written, "Unlike the imagined wild and woolly region where the fastest gun or the biggest landowner exploited everyone else, the real West was generally peaceful because of the stable institutional environment that was carved out by the early pioneers."

The power of eminent domain:
Razing objections.  Just before dawn on July 14, 1981, Detroit police hooked a tow truck to the basement door of the Immaculate Conception Church on Trombly Street and tore it off its hinges.  They stormed in and arrested a dozen parishioners who were making a desperate, doomed attempt to save part of their neighborhood from an assault by an unbeatable alliance of big government, big business and big labor.

Government Theft:  The Top 10 Abuses of Eminent Domain.  Eminent domain is a despotic power.  Acting more like real estate agents than public servants, government increasingly uses the eminent domain power to condemn property for private purposes.

In Defense of Property Rights:  The Right to Property.  Over the past fifteen years, Houstonians have witnessed nearly constant attempts to place controls on the use of private property.  These efforts have taken many forms — restrictions on billboards, prohibitions on indoor smoking, the landscaping ordinance, and zoning, to name a few — and have been led by many different people.

Chicago Uses Storm-Troop Tactics to Trash Meigs.  The City of Chicago used surprise and shock tactics to start demolishing Meigs Field, the world-renowned airport serving downtown, ripping up runway without notice in the dark of night under police guard.

How far have property rights been eroded?  What if "narcotics officers" decide to climb a fence marked "no trespassing" and hike two miles onto private property and seize marijuana found growing there and charge the property owner with a drug felony, without any kind of warrant or other probable cause?

America is a police state.  We actually had a U.S. senator introduce legislation that, if it had become law, would have permitted any local or federal law enforcement officer to seize your cash if he happened to find you carrying more than 10 grand in an airport, bus station, interstate highway or most other public places.  No arrest, no questions, no charges … just take the money.  The legislation failed, but police agencies seize cash from hapless citizens just the same.

Costco's Corporate Welfare:  Tracking published reports on the abuse of eminent domain, one finds Costco is the leading beneficiary of this kind of corporate welfare, having taken government-confiscated land three times more often then its next rival.

Clinton Monuments Challenged in Court:  Years after President Clinton enraged western land rights groups by designating millions of acres of land as national monuments in areas in the West, two groups are taking their constitutional challenge to the next level.

House green lights major enviro bill:  Henry Lamb suggested that the bill would be better named the "Screw-the-Landowner Act of 2001," and observed: "It is one of several proposals to provide tax dollars and authorization to convert even more of the rapidly diminishing private property in America to government inventories.

Property Rights Loss Invites Anarchy:  Today we are witnessing corrupt courts that toss aside election laws, that take over whole school systems and then demand taxes be imposed to implement their rulings, a function of legislatures and local communities.

Property Rights Violated… Rural America Under Siege:  Madeleine Fortin's own story about how the federal government is confiscating her and her neighbors' property.

It's time for new owners:  America was built on the principle of free enterprise, which begins with private ownership - of land and resources.  Nearly half of America is now owned by the government - federal, state, and local.  How can free enterprise exist if government owns the land and resources?

Earth Summit:  "Historic Milestone" or "Big Circus"?  Ironically, the 60,000 people attending the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development are projected to create the same amount of pollution during the ten days of the summit as nearly half a million Africans do during the course of an entire year.

Nationwide property-grab programs:  The Santa Barbara coast is being gobbled up by what has become known as the "Lynn Scarlett" National Park.  The Department of Interior has designated 215,000 acres of prime real estate as a national park — whether or not the local residents want it.

"Unnecessary Attention" from the Federal Bulldozer:  Having made housing unaffordable for many people, government now provides a relative handful of people with housing that is almost as affordable as it would be if the government had left things alone.

"Open Space" = Housing Ban:  What are called open space laws could more honestly be called "housing bans."  But that would expose the hypocrisy of those open space advocates who also proclaim their desire to see more "affordable housing."

End Eminent Domain Abuse:  Most people would be shocked to discover that governments across the nation are taking individual's homes, only to transfer that property to a favored business or neighbor.  Or that businesses are often being condemned, just so that another business can take the property and make a larger profit.  Yet in the last few years, that's exactly what's been going on.  Local governments in particular have taken private homes and businesses to replace them with other privately owned businesses, malls, industrial developments, and upscale housing.

Suit filed after cops confiscate motor home:  A California man has filed suit in U.S. district court in Detroit after police from Royal Oak, Mich., confiscated his motor home because it allegedly bore "obscene" pro-life messages.

Individual Rights & the Supreme Court:  It is the Supreme Court's fundamental task to ensure for all Americans that the government's exercise of its powers remains wedded solely to the principle that animates the Constitution—the doctrine of individual rights.  Yet without a consistent understanding of the principle of individual rights, the Supreme Court (and the lower courts) are rudderless in their interpretation of the Constitution.

Barbara Boxer's World of Development Restriction and "Affordable Housing":  "Liberal" Senators — and many others — have repeatedly wrung their hands over a lack of "affordable housing" in California.  Meanwhile, they are doing all they can to prevent any housing from being built on ever more vast areas of land.

Protecting wetlands, destroying freedom:  A year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck a blow for property rights.  State governments should not be allowed to undo this small victory.

Is Big Brother Moving In?  Are Our Property Rights Secure?  In a nutshell, after eight years of litigation, this is the outcome of my case:  Government can take your property, damage your property, bankrupt you and devastate your life without fear of liability or of having to pay damages.  All a governmental entity has to do is say, "Oh, your honor, we just made a mistake" - even if it is totally illegal - and not have to pay a cent.

How to talk about property rights:  Why protecting property rights benefits all Americans.  The federal government now owns 30 percent of America's land, with even higher percentages in the West (for instance, 61 percent of Idaho), and is using regulatory takings with increasing frequency to enhance its effective control over even more extensive tracts.

Property Seizures:

This is an original compilation, Copyright © 2024 by Andrew K. Dart This is an original compilation, Copyright © 2024 by Andrew K. Dart

Letitia James to Start Seizing Trump's Properties.  According to former federal prosecutor Eric Lisann, Knight Specialty Insurance won't be allowed to post a $175 million bond for Donald Trump as he appeals a fraud judgment.  This statement came in response to lawyer Dave Kingman's assertion that the insurance company wouldn't be able to secure the bond for Trump. [...] On April 1, Trump submitted a $175 million bond to prevent the seizure of his assets by New York Attorney General Letitia James during his appeal of a civil fraud ruling.  However, the court's filing system rejected the bond shortly afterward due to missing paperwork, including a "current financial statement."  James later questioned the adequacy of the bond and highlighted that Knight Specialty Insurance Company (KSIC), is not authorized in New York, rendering it ineligible to obtain a certificate of qualification from the Department of Financial Services.  KSIC has resubmitted its paperwork to restart the process.

Jonathan Turley Explains Why Letitia James Won't be Able to Seize Trump's Assets.  Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley weighed in on Letitia James' latest move to seize Trump's assets.  Marxist New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday took the initial step to seize Trump's assets.  She filed judgments in Westchester County where Trump's private estate and golf course is located.  President Trump has until Monday to either pay the judgment or convince the appellate court to allow him to defer the payment pending appeal.  Turley said James' effort to seize his assets and padlock Trump Tower is not likely to happen because Trump's properties are complex partnerships with leveraged debt.

Letitia James Already Began Paperwork to Seize Trump Assets.  As the clock ticks to post a bond for his $464 million New York civil fraud appeal, former President Trump is ready to blow woke New York Attorney General Letitia James' case to pieces.  Trump claimed that he had $500 million in cash on hand to squash James' attempts to seize his hard-earned assets, including his Mar-a-Lago residence.  "Through hard work, talent, and luck, I currently have almost five hundred million dollars in cash, a substantial amount of which I intended to use in my campaign for president," Trump wrote in an all-caps Truth Social post.  The 45th president is ordered to post the bond on Monday [33/25/2024].  [Tweet with video clip]

Fairness for Trump?  Former President Donald Trump has just days to come up with a bond, a nearly half-billion-dollar bond, to ensure that he will pay the outrageously excessive judgment against him in the lawsuit filed by New York's Democratic attorney general, Letitia James.  Nailing Trump has been a longtime goal for James — in her campaign for state attorney general, she pledged to "bring him down."  Now, with the help of a compliant judge — in New York, Trump did not have the right to a jury trial — James is threatening to confiscate Trump's assets before he is even able to appeal the verdict against him.  It's happening because under New York law, James can force Trump to put up the whole judgment, $454 million, before he can appeal.  And if Trump doesn't produce the cash or secure a bond for the money, James can seize his assets and sell them off.  That is all before an appeals court can review the highly questionable proceeding against Trump.

Trump's Legal Team Fights Back as Letitia James Takes Initial Step to Seize Trump's Golf Course and Private Estate.  President Trump's legal team fought back as Letitia James took the initial step to seize Trump's assets on Thursday after his attorney said he was unable to secure a bond to appeal the massive judgment in the NYC fraud case.  Letitia James filed judgments in Westchester County where Trump's private estate and golf course is located.  President Trump has four days to either pay the judgment or convince the appellate court to allow him to defer the payment pending appeal.  Trump's legal team has filed an appeal and requested a stay on the massive $464 million judgment.

Letitia James appears to eye Trump's Westchester golf club and 212-acre estate as properties she could seize.  New York AG Letitia James may be gearing up to seize Donald Trump's Westchester golf club and Seven Springs estate as the deadline looms for the ex-president to secure the $454 million bond a judge imposed after his fraud trial.  The attorney general formally registered judgements in Westchester County where Trump has the two properties just north of Manhattan on March 6.  According to the county clerk's online database, the judgements were registered against Trump, the Trump Organization and his two adult sons Don Jr. and Eric.  The action was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Tennessee Sheriff's Office Faces Scrutiny for Stealing Livestock Without a Warrant.  In Marshall County, Tennessee, a law enforcement agency is under scrutiny for seizing animals without warrants.  Current and former officials in the Marshall County Sheriff's Office reportedly admitted to the practice during a court proceeding.  The story reveals how those purporting to fight for the rights of animals use their positions to steal people's property under the guise of stopping animal cruelty.  [... "]Norman Dalton, who was Marshall County's sheriff from 2010 to 2014, said he was "shocked" at the amount of animals seized by the office since Sheriff Billy Lamb took over in 2014.  Records filed in discovery in a lawsuit show the office seized animals from at least 10 people from 2014 to 2019, none with a seizure warrant.  Detective Tony Nichols handled all the animal cruelty cases, Lamb said in a deposition in the same lawsuit.[" ...]  Dalton explained that officers under Lamb did not follow proper procedures when handling these cases.  "Every time you seize an animal, they should have had a warrant," he said.

Indicted FBI agent stole cash, silver from Houston man prosecuted over Jan. 6 riots, records show.  A Houston college student prosecuted for his participation in the Jan. 6 insurrection was one of people robbed by a Houston-based FBI agent, according to newly released court records.  Alexander Fan's complaint about missing cash and silver helped lead to the January indictment of FBI agent Nicholas Anthony Williams, according to court records.  Fan, 27, was sentenced to 12 months probation in connection to the riot.  Fan was found guilty of entering and remaining a room in the Capitol building.  He was accused of climbing into an office through a broken window after his entry was blocked by a closed door.

The FBI and Fourth Amendment follies.  Most Americans don't know how much police officers rely on the Constitution, and particularly the Bill of Rights, in their daily work.  This is particularly true of the Fourth Amendment, which regulates search and seizure: [...] Tragically, for America and the rule of law, the FBI apparently doesn't worry about trifles like probable cause or the Fourth Amendment: [...] An increasing number of Normal Americans and pundits alike believe the FBI hopelessly corrupt and are calling for its elimination.  With the FBI committing such willful, egregious and arrogant violations of the Constitution, it's hard to suggest they're wrong.

Ninth Circuit Finds FBI Search Resembled 'Those That Led to Adoption of the Fourth Amendment'.  World Economic Forum Poohbah Klaus Schwab is fond of paraphrasing the Joseph Goebbels quote, "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear," as "If you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't be afraid."  Fortunately, that dark day in America has been kicked down the road by no less a body than a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  On Tuesday, the court struck down the FBI and Department of Justice in what looks to be a precedent-setting case called Snitko v.  United States, dealing a significant blow to the government's expansive search and seizure practices known as "inventory searches."  The case started out with a 2021 raid on a company called US Private Vaults, a California company offering secure safe deposit boxes with minimal personal identification requirements.  Though apparently some specific boxes were targeted, the FBI elected to break open some 700 boxes and rummaged through their contents to the extent of bringing drug dogs in to sniff for traces of drugs as an excuse for invoking civil asset forfeiture.

FBI Illegally Raided Hundreds of Safe-Deposit Boxes, Appeals Court Rules.  The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the FBI acted unlawfully in March 2021, when it raided hundreds of renters' safe-deposit boxes in Beverly Hills, conducted criminal searches of them all, and attempted to permanently keep everything in the boxes worth more than $5,000 — all without charging any box renter with a crime.  The 9th Circuit's Tuesday decision stems from an investigation the FBI opened into US Private Vaults, or USPV — a company that, unlike typical banks, provided safe-deposit boxes to customers without requiring identification.  The FBI had been investigating invididual USPV customers, but determined the "real problem" was USPV, which they believed served as a "money laundering facilitator."  Accordingly, the FBI raided the entire USPV vault in 2021.  Even though the warrant authorizing the raid only permitted the FBI to open boxes to identify their owners and safeguard the contents, agents rummaged through hundreds of boxes, ran currency they found in front of drug sniffing dogs, and made copies of people's most personal records, according to the Institute for Justice, which filed a lawsuit on behalf of multiple non-criminal USPV customers.

Former Marine Fights Back After Nevada Police Steal His Life Savings Under Civil Asset Forfeiture.  Stephen Lara was driving to California in February 2021 to visit his daughters when he was pulled over by law enforcement in Nevada.  What ensued was nothing resembling a routine traffic stop and ended with the officers violating Lara's property rights.  The officers seized Lara's life savings, which amounted to $87,000, without charging him with a crime.  They did so by declaring that it was likely being used for drug crimes and stole his money under civil asset forfeiture.  Unfortunately for them, they picked the wrong person to target.

Chicago Mayor Impounds Buses From Texas, Citations Issued.  Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is trying to manage the chaos created by the arrival of illegal aliens to his sanctuary city.  One solution he is implementing is to impound buses coming from Texas and issue citations.  Let's be honest — Mayor Johnson is not the sharpest tool in the shed.  He has been in office for seven months and he has yet to accomplish anything of noteworthiness.  He's good at getting before a camera, though, and trashing Texas Governor Abbott for taking Chicago up on its claim of being a sanctuary city.  Texas as an overabundance of illegal aliens, thanks to the Biden border crisis, and everything was fine as long as Texas was going it alone and dealing with the illegal border crossers.  However, once Governor Abbott began using migrant buses as a part of Operation Lone Star, the border security initiative he implemented in March 2021 when it became apparent the Biden border crisis is deliberate, suddenly sanctuary cities began crying foul.

Texas School District Backs Off Effort To Seize a 79-Year-Old Man's Home for Stadium Parking.  A Texas school district has dropped its efforts to seize a 79-year-old man's home for an expanded parking lot.  After minimal discussion during a Thursday night meeting, the Aldine Independent School District (ISD) board voted unanimously to end its efforts to acquire a one-acre parcel and home owned by Travis Upchurch.  "We are as a family completely relieved.  We can go back to our normal lives.  We don't have to worry about what's going to happen to our dad or where dad's going to go," says Tara Upchurch, Travis Upchurch's daughter.  For the past several months, her family has been frantically trying to fend off the Aldine ISD's efforts to acquire Upchurch's property for a high school football stadium's parking lot — part of a $50 million rebuild of the stadium.

New witnesses in the FBI Civil War gold heist emerge.  We've been covering this story since it first rose to national attention almost three years ago, but more details continue to emerge.  We're talking about the treasure-hunting duo Dennis and Kem Parada of Finders Keepers, who believed they tracked down the location of a huge shipment of gold that was "lost" during the Civil War in rural Dents Run, Pennsylvania.  Unable to get permission to dig for the treasure, they enlisted the help of the government.  That's when the FBI showed up with earth-moving equipment and conducted their own secretive dig, later claiming that they found nothing.  The treasure hunters didn't believe them and took them to court in a case that is still unfolding.  But now, two new witnesses have come forward and they say they're not buying what the FBI is claiming either.

FBI sued after allegedly losing hundreds of thousands in rare coins during raid.  Two Americans are alleging the FBI lost or stole their property after seizing it through a "shady" process.  "All we know is that their property was in a box and safe before the FBI broke into the box," Joe Gay, an attorney with the nonprofit law firm Institute for Justice, told Fox News.  "Once the FBI broke into the box, we honestly don't know exactly what happened."  "We don't know if they lost it.  We don't know if somebody pocketed it and walked away," he continued.  "We have no way to know."  The Institute for Justice filed two lawsuits Friday on behalf of clients who had property seized from their safety deposit boxes in a March 2021 FBI raid on U.S. Private Vaults, a Beverly Hills-based company.  After prevailing in court, and the FBI agreeing to return their property, both Don Mellein and Jeni Pearsons discovered some of their property was missing and suspect the FBI's haphazard raid or sticky fingers are to blame.

FBI Accused of Stealing or Losing Seized Property, Including Cash and Gold Coins Worth Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars.  Civil asset forfeiture.  It's one of the few topics that bring together both sides.  Two Americans have accused the FBI of stealing or losing their property, including gold coins worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.  No one even knows exactly what happened.

FBI Sued for What Elderly Man Says Happened to His Coin Collection:  Report.  A Beverly Hills man has sued the FBI to get his property back after the agency allegedly took hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gold coins he had stored in a safety deposit box, items he was told they would never return even though he was never charged with any crimes.  The man's attorney told Fox News that the FBI had raided a California-based safety storage company on suspicion of laundering money for drug dealers, but while in the pursuit of those charges, the bureau also raided the company's suite of safety deposit boxes, broke into all of them, and confiscated every customer's property whether they ended up connected to any drug dealers or not.  Worse, these folks were told that the "law enforcement" agency had no intentions of ever giving back their valuables and cited "civil asset forfeiture" rules as their excuse to keep $86 million in cash and other valuables.

The FBI Took Her Life Savings But Won't Say What She Did Wrong.  The FBI seized Linda Martin's $40,200.  It didn't charge her with a crime, and the notice the FBI sent her did not say why it was trying to keep her money forever.  Yet Linda's savings have been in the government's hands for nearly two years.  What started as a simple decision to save for a home has now become a nationwide class action lawsuit.  Linda Martin lives in the expensive Los Angeles real-estate market.  When Linda began to save for a down payment, she wanted to rent a safe deposit box because, in Linda's own words, she is "a shopper."  Linda knew that if she could use her ATM card to spend that money, there would be a chance she would use it on something she wanted but didn't really need.  So she decided to put the cash in cold storage.

Sixth Circuit Rules Owners of Cars Taken by Asset Forfeiture Have Constitutional Right to a Hearing Within Two Weeks of Seizure.  In many states, asset forfeiture laws allow law enforcement agencies to seize valuable property based on mere suspicion that it was used in a crime, and then keep it even if the owner was never convicted of any crime.  On top of that, some force owners to wait many months before they even have a chance to challenge the forfeiture in a hearing.  Yesterday, in Ingram v.  Wayne County, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a decision holding that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires the government to give owners a hearing within two weeks, in at least some cases where their cars seized through asset forfeiture.  The ruling also features a compelling concurring opinion by Judge Amul Thapar, a prominent conservative jurist often considered a potential future Supreme Court nominee.

Civil Forfeiture:  How the Government Makes Billions by Taking Americans' Private Property.  Police officers raided Cristal Starling's New York apartment when they suspected her then-boyfriend of dealing drugs, in October 2020.  And while Ms. Starling was never suspected or charged with any wrongdoing, police seized $8,040 of her hard-earned cash.  But because law enforcement seized Ms. Starling's money through a process called civil forfeiture, they were under no obligation to return it.  And they didn't.  Instead, they transferred it to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  It's still there.  Meanwhile, Ms. Starling's ex-boyfriend was acquitted after a jury trial.  "Criminal forfeiture happens after a criminal conviction," Kirby Thomas West, an Institute for Justice (IJ) attorney, told The Epoch Times.  "Civil forfeiture, on the other hand, happens often when there's no criminal process at all."

Taxes Aren't The Only Form Of Legalized Government Takings.  Over the last 20 years, this racketeering scheme, which is often called "civil asset forfeiture," has netted over $68 billion for local and federal governments.  In fact, over a 20-year period, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has seized (and kept) more than $203 million in cash from travelers at O'Hare International Airport and, in most cases, no charges were ever filed.  In the United States, the government can raid citizens' homes and keep property even though the citizen has never been convicted of a crime!  Welcome to the murky world of civil asset forfeiture, where the government needs only a preponderance of evidence to seize your belongings, including cash.  This is because the proceedings are civil, not criminal, and the higher standard (beyond a reasonable doubt) does not apply.  Criminal asset forfeiture kicks in only when someone has been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for a crime from which they profited directly.  Even if an alleged criminal is found not guilty in a criminal trial, is it possible for the government to keep that individual's property?  The answer to that question is a frightening yes.

SCOTUS OKs IRS Slithering Into Accounts & Taking $$$.  The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously okays the IRS plodding through taxpayers' bank records in secret, warrantless fishing expeditions.  The IRS can also collect unpaid taxes from family members and associates without legal ties to those accounts.  And now we will have 80,000 more IRS agents to do it.  Forget about getting your money back.  When the government does its asset forfeitures, even the innocent often can't get their money and other assets back.  The Court noted that "the authority vested in tax collectors may be abused, as all power is subject to abuse" and that "Congress has given the IRS considerable power," the Supreme Court's 9-0 ruling in Polselli v. IRS declined to restrict the IRS's authority.

South Dakota Farmers Face Carbon-capture Land Theft.  Farmers in South Dakota are facing egregious intimidation tactics by a private company that wants to use eminent domain to confiscate valuable farmland for carbon-capture pipelines.  Summit Carbon Solutions requested a restraining order against Brown County farmer Jerad Bossly.  The company claims he threatened the lives of its representatives who showed up unannounced to survey his property, a farm that has been in his family for four generations.  He told The New American that when they arrived, he was about 12 miles away, working in a field.  His wife was home, recovering from gallbladder surgery, and was taking a shower when the Summit surveyors knocked at her door.  They entered the house, but finding no one there, they proceeded to an outbuilding where one of them walked in.

The Editor says...
"Carbon capture pipelines" are one of the dumbest ideas ever proposed.  First of all, it's carbon dioxide they're after, not carbon.  Second, there's no real reason to remove carbon dioxide from the air, because that's what trees and grass do.  CO2 is not a pollutant.  Third, nobody will never be able to remove CO2 from the air as fast as China and India are putting it into the air.  But most of all, if CO2 must be extracted from the atmosphere, that can be done anywhere in the world.  If CO2 must be sequestered, extract it from the air at the same place it is to be stored.  No CO2 pipelines are necessary.

Minnesota County Had No Right to Confiscate Elderly Woman's Home Equity, Supreme Court Rules.  The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the plaintiff in Tyler v. Hennepin County, finding that county officials violated the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment by seizing not only back taxes owed by an elderly home owner but also the equity she had accumulated in her condo.  The case centers around Geraldine Tyler, a 94-year-old woman, whose $40,000 home was seized by Hennepin County, Minn., due to $15,000 in unpaid taxes and fees.  However, after the sale of the property, local officials kept the surplus $25,000 profit instead of returning the funds to Tyler.  "A taxpayer who loses her $40,000 house to the State to fulfill a $15,000 tax debt has made a far greater contribution to the public fisc than she owed," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a majority opinion published on Thursday.  "The taxpayer must render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, but no more."

The Usual Suspects in Tyler v. Hennepin County.  "Home equity theft" is a term sometimes applied to a practice currently permitted in a handful of states whereby a property owner who owes unpaid property taxes can, under certain circumstances, be subject to a foreclosure process that ultimately deprives him or her of the entire property interest, including any equity in excess of the amount owed.  This lost equity can be substantial, and home equity theft has been criticized as both an improper windfall for government and a serious injustice to the former property owner.  Tyler v. Hennepin County arose from such a foreclosure.

The government seized this 94-year-old woman's condo, sold it for $40k, and didn't give her a penny.  Here's your daily reminder that you don't actually own property if the government can seize it for not paying property tax:  [Tweet] [...] Whatever reason Mrs. Tyler had for not paying the tax bills, the county should have compensated her for the sale of the condo.  The only money to which they could reasonably lay claim from the sale was the full amount of unpaid taxes and fees, not the value of the property itself.

Deciphering the Government's Invisible Ink.  Civil asset forfeiture laws allow law enforcement and other agencies to seize your personal property and retain it indefinitely.  They just have to have reason to believe it was involved in the commission of a crime, even if the person was acquitted or never charged.  If you have heard of this process, the seizure of assets from drug lords or such probably comes to mind; sadly though, it's been used too many times on innocent people who can't afford to fight back!  And here's the kicker... the federal government receives up to 80% of whatever the state seizes.  A friend I knew lost an airplane he used to transport Freon across the southern border.  He loaned the aircraft to a friend, and although there was no criminal action, the plane was confiscated because R-22 Freon is regulatorily banned here in the States.  Our voluminous laws allow all kinds of takings.

'Outrageous': Confiscation of $40,000 in life savings finally decided.  A federal case against the nearly $40,000 a trucker was carrying to buy a new rig for his company, but was confiscated by the government, has been dismissed.  WND reported only a few weeks ago that the money, actually $39,500, had been returned to business owner Jerry Johnson.  But the case was continuing over issues of interest and lawyers' fees, and now the Institute for Justice says those have been resolved and the case has been dismissed.  The cash was confiscated when Johnson was at the Phoenix, Arizona, airport in 2020.  There was no reason for the confiscation, except that he was carrying money, the IJ said.

Seize property to build wind and solar farms, says JP Morgan chief.  The chief executive of JP Morgan has suggested that governments should seize private land to build wind and solar farms in order to meet net zero targets.  Jamie Dimon, the longstanding boss of the Wall Street titan who donates to the Democratic Party, said green energy projects must be fast-tracked as the window for averting the most costly impacts of global climate change is closing.  In his annual shareholder letter, Mr Dimon said:  "Permitting reforms are desperately needed to allow investment to be done in any kind of timely way.  "We may even need to evoke eminent domain — we simply are not getting the adequate investments fast enough for grid, solar, wind and pipeline initiatives."

The Editor says...
There is no rapidly-closing window.  Global warming, at the rate of one degree per century, is not a cause for alarm, and even if new laws could stop the weather from changing — which is impossible — land seizures for new solar panels and windmills wouldn't be justifiable, nor would they be of any benefit in the long run.

The FBI took her life savings.  Now she's fighting to help others get theirs back.  Linda Martin thought she was being responsible by putting her nest egg in a safe deposit box where she wouldn't be tempted to touch it.  She never imagined the FBI would seize her life savings.  "They didn't tell us why they took our money.  They haven't told us anything as far as what we did wrong," Martin, 58, told Fox News.  "We haven't done anything wrong.  We work and we saved our money because we were trying to save and buy a house."  Two years later, Martin still doesn't know why her money was taken or if she'll ever get it back.

Fight escalates over car confiscated from innocent man by county.  It was about three years ago that Detroit resident Robert Reeves inadvertently got on the wrong side of law enforcement officials in Wayne County.  And a lawsuit has just now been filed seeking a court decision that would punish officials who have waged their campaign against him.  It got started, according to a report from the Institute for Justice, when Reeves, an auto mechanic and construction worker, in 2019 visited a job site where there were pieces of construction equipment that allegedly had been stolen from Home Depot.  He arrived in his 1991 Chevrolet Camaro, but police, disregarding his statements that he knew nothing about any thefts, and ignoring that there was no evidence against him, seized his car.

Judge tosses lawsuit against FBI after bureau 'stole' millions in jewelry, cash from 1,400 safe deposit boxes.  Once again, the deep state is guilty of protecting its own at the expense of ordinary Americans.  Last month, a federal judge in California tossed out a lawsuit alleging that the FBI literally stole millions in cash, jewelry, and other valuables out of some 1,400 safe deposit boxes after raiding a private company believed to be involved in money laundering for criminals.  "A lawsuit filed in August alleged the FBI and the US attorney's office in Los Angeles obtained warrants against US Private Vaults in Beverly Hills, California, by concealing critical details from the judge who approved them," Business Insider reported in early October.  "In his ruling, District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner found no impropriety in the way the government got or executed the warrants for the raid.  He dismissed the class-action suit filed on behalf of the people whose boxes had been seized."  Klausner, a George W. Bush appointee, acknowledged in his ruling that the vault company was shut down after the 2021 raid, and its owners have since pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to launder drug money.

Judge dashes city's hopes that its car confiscation scheme will escape review.  A federal judge has dashed hopes by officials in Wilmington, Delaware, that their scheme to confiscate vehicles will escape review. [...] In 2021, two victims of Wilmington's tow-and-impound racket, Ameera Shaheed and Earl Dickerson, filed a lawsuit seeking to bring an end to Wilmington's unconstitutional impound system.  "This is a great decision, and we can't wait to get the city and the towing companies under oath at deposition," said IJ Attorney Will Aronin.  "Wilmington empowered these companies to keep and scrap thousands of cars in exchange for running the city's impound program.  That's unconstitutional and today's victory brings us one huge step closer to shutting the system down for good."  The IJ explained Wilmington "contracts out its municipal impound system to private towing companies and funds the whole system by letting these companies wrongfully take and keep people's cars."  The system puts Wilmington people at risk of losing their vehicles to an impound system that profits from scrapping the cars that are taken.

California police stole $17,000 from these sisters.  Did you know police steal more from Americans every year than burglars do?  Civil asset forfeiture (CAF) is a legal practice so bad and so unethical that most people won't believe it's true until they read up on it.  But under this system, police are allowed to take your property if they even just suspect you of a crime (No, not charge you with a crime.  No, not convict you for a crime.  Suspect). And they basically just get to keep it unless you have the ability (i.e. the funds) to challenge them in court and prove your innocence.  It's a total perversion of our Constitution, which is supposed to ensure individuals are innocent until proven guilty and which places the burden of that proof on the accuser (the state).

When it comes to the FBI, the hits just keep coming.  The FBI is alleged to have misled a judge to authorize the wrongful seizure of $86 million in cash and valuables from 1,400 safe-deposit boxes in a bank vault in Beverly Hills — and is now refusing to return the money: [...] It turns out that the FBI agents didn't tell the judge that they intended to seize everything from any box with $5,000 or more in cash or goods.  The lawsuit is necessary because the FBI now refuses to return the wrongfully seized items.  If this reminds you of the lies told to spy on Carter Page, giving it access to Trump's own communications, it should.  The agency has gone totally rogue.

Is the FBI descending into a smash-and-grab gang?  The FBI has been under an unfavorable spotlight over its politicized activity under color of law enforcement — from colluding with Facebook to draconian raids on political operatives in the party out of power, to excessive force on disfavored activists.  But a case out in Los Angeles suggests there's more than just a political ethics problem — there seems to be a straight ethics problem, a downright crime problem, and the shocking thing is that nobody seems afraid of going to jail for it.

The FBI Lied to a Judge So They Could Bust Open Thousands of Safety Deposit Boxes.  According to a new report from the LA Times, FBI agents busted into thousands of safety deposit boxes in California.  After they rummaged through the private property of innocent people, it turns out they lied to a federal judge to get access to the boxes in the first place.  "The privacy invasion was vast when FBI agents drilled and pried their way into 1,400 safe-deposit boxes at the U.S. Private Vaults store in Beverly Hills.  They rummaged through personal belongings of a jazz saxophone player, an interior designer, a retired doctor, a flooring contractor, two Century City lawyers and hundreds of others," the LA Times reports.  "Agents took photos and videos of pay stubs, password lists, credit cards, a prenuptial agreement, immigration and vaccination records, bank statements, heirlooms and a will, court records show.  In one box, agents found cremated human remains."

With the FBI seizing phones and computers, Congress should act.  Peter Strzok, one of the major players in the Russia hoax against President Trump, put out a tweet boasting about how many cell phones the FBI has taken from people who support President Trump or question the 2020 election. [...] As Mike Lindell said when his phone was taken, he runs everything through it:  his business and his personal life.  Heck, even his hearing aids are managed through his phone.  Presumably, though, like the other people from whom the FBI has seized their electronics, Lindell can replace phones and computers and, if he's smart, he has backups in his home or on the cloud.  What about those people, though, who lack the means instantly to replace a seized computer or telephone?  What are they supposed to do when the FBI walks away with it and refuses to return it for days, weeks, months, or years?

The Editor says...
That's the risk you take when you live on crutches:  Carrying a cell phone with you everywhere leads to a life lived on crutches.  The GPS is a crutch.  Your social media feed is a crutch.  An internet search engine is a crutch.  The telephone itself is a crutch.  You only realize it when someone knocks the crutches out from under you.

FBI Lied To Court En Route To Seizing Property Owned By Private Vault Company Customers.  There is no doubt civil asset forfeiture perverts law enforcement's incentives.  When a government agency can directly profit from seizing people's property, it will do this as often as it can.  And when the justice system is skewed against people seeking to have their property returned, it greases the wheels for abuse.  In forfeiture cases, the government is allowed to treat seized property as presumptively guilty, placing the burden of proof on people whose property has been seized to prove they acquired it legally.  Inverting the burden of proof makes it less likely seizures will be challenged since citizens aren't guaranteed free representation in what is ostensibly a civil case.  That means if people can't afford to hire a lawyer (or realize legal fees will exceed the value of the seized property), the government gets to keep everything it stole.  The FBI used this leverage to seize everything agents found in private storage boxes owned by customers of US Private Vaults.

FBI affidavit misled a magistrate judge on a search warrant in plot to seize and forfeit contents of safety deposit boxes.  In a case with a direct bearing on the search warrant issued on Mar A Lago, the March 22, 2021 FBI raid on a private safe deposit box operator in Beverly Hills, California just got even dodgier, according to court documents released by different federal judge than issued the warrant.  You may recall that the FBI raided US Private Vaults in Beverly Hills and seized the contents of boxes of people accused of no crimes.  Eric Boehm of Reason reports on the latest revelations that show a pattern of FBI abise of magistrate judges for the purpose of obtaining search warrants that amount to fishing expeditions — a violation of the Fourth Amendment[.]

Kansas Seized $21 Million From People Over the Past Two Years.  Most Were Never Convicted of a Crime.  Law enforcement in Kansas raked in $21 million through civil asset forfeiture over the past two years, according to a report released this week by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF).  The report, drawing on a new state database, found that Kansas police seized $21.3 million from people in the state between July 2019 and the end of 2021.  Of those cases, less than one-quarter of the owners have been convicted of a crime.  Under civil asset forfeiture laws, police can seize property suspected of being connected to criminal activity without charging the owner with a crime.  Law enforcement groups say it's a vital tool to disrupt drug trafficking and criminal networks by targeting their illicit revenues.  However, civil liberties groups, news outlets, and a broad spectrum of advocacy groups have published numerous reports over the years arguing that asset forfeiture lacks due process protections and often targets everyday people, rather than cartel lords.

Surprising Absolutely No One, Kansas Law Enforcement Can't Accurately Track Forfeitures.  Cops love laws when they're using them against people, no matter how esoteric or misunderstood (by cops) the laws are.  When laws are applied to them, they're far less concerned about being law-abiding.  Kansas implemented a law in July 2019 that required all law enforcement agencies to track and report forfeiture amounts.  This hasn't gone well for the dozens of agencies now expected be just a little bit more accountable, as Duane Schrag reports for KCUR.

Kansas law enforcement routinely produces error-filled reports on seized cash and property.  A push three years ago for more accountability from Kansas law enforcement agencies that seize cash, cars and contraband — often without filing criminal charges against the owner — has generated a wealth of new information.  On examination, however, the numbers often don't add up.  A review of nearly 2,000 reports filed so far found widespread inconsistencies in the way seizures are reported.  More than half of the law enforcement agencies have failed to report some of their seizures as required and have done so with the blessing of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, which is charged with gathering and posting the information on a publicly accessible website.  "It was the Legislature's intention that we know the value of seizures, no matter at what stage in the process they are, whether they are pending, whether they have concluded," said Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita.  "The intention was to have that data available so that the Legislature could look at additional legislation to deal with what most of us perceived to be the overuse of civil asset forfeiture."

FBI records on search for fabled gold raise more questions.  A scientific analysis commissioned by the FBI shortly before agents went digging for buried treasure suggested that a huge quantity of gold could be below the surface, according to newly released government documents and photos that deepen the mystery of the 2018 excavation in remote western Pennsylvania.  The report, by a geophysicist who performed microgravity testing at the site, hinted at an underground object with a mass of up to 9 tons and a density consistent with gold.  The FBI used the consultant's work to obtain a warrant to seize the gold — if there was any to be found.  The government has long claimed its dig was a bust.  But a father-son pair of treasure hunters who spent years hunting for the fabled Civil War-era gold — and who led agents to the woodland site, hoping for a finder's fee — suspect the FBI double-crossed them and made off with a cache that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

After Roe, Here Are Seven More Precedents the Post-Trump Supreme Court Should Smash.  [#4] Kelo vs.  City of New London:  America's government, at all levels, has always had the power to appropriate private property for its own ends.  The Fifth Amendment, though, restrains this eminent domain power by requiring that all seizures be compensated (no Zimbabwe stunts allowed), and requiring that any seized land be for "public use."  Not "public interest," but rather "public use."  But 2005, the Supreme Court's liberal faction gutted this protection.  The city of New London, Connecticut decided to seize the homes of Susette Kelo and her neighbors, not to build roads or schools or a dam, but simply to transfer the land to a private developer.  Redevelopment, the city claimed, would benefit the public by providing increased tax revenue.  Inexcusably, Justice Anthony Kennedy joined with the Court's four liberal justices to uphold New London's land seizure as a valid instance of "public use."  In a poetic twist, the planned redevelopment never materialized and Pfizer, the intended beneficiary, instead closed its campus in the city as soon as generous tax breaks expired.  The land once occupied by Susette Kelo's home is now a vacant lot, a fitting testament to progressive social engineering visions.

Home Theft.  Did you know that in some states, if you miss one tax payment, local politicians will take your home, sell it and keep all the profits?  Really.  Tawanda Hall was behind on her taxes.  She was on a payment plan but had missed $900.  She didn't expect Southfield, Michigan, to take her entire house because of that.  It was worth $286,000 more than what she owed.  "I'm still in shock," says Tawanda Hall in my new video.  "They took my whole house, my whole family's livelihood."  John Bursch, a lawyer for the county, says while this practice may sound unfair (yes, it sure does), "It's also unfair to force those who pay their taxes to subsidize those who don't."

Boston Police Use Asset Forfeiture Funds to Secretly Purchase Stingray Spy Device.  Civil asset forfeiture is a pernicious policy in its own right.  It is nothing more than legalized, institutionalized, government-sanctioned theft.  Forfeiture laws flip due process on its head and create perverse "policing for profit" incentives.  It's bad enough that police can take people's stuff, oftentimes without even charging them with a crime.  But the damage done by this insidious policy is magnified when police use asset forfeiture money to fund the ever-growing surveillance state.  Such was the case in Boston.  In 2019, the Boston Police Department bought a cell-site simulator with a price tag of $627,000.  But the BPD didn't have money in its budget for such an expenditure.  It paid for the invasive and controversial surveillance tech with asset forfeiture money.  Commonly known as "stingrays," cell-site simulators essentially spoof cell phone towers, tricking any device within range into connecting to the stingray instead of the tower, allowing law enforcement to sweep up communications content, as well as locate and track the person in possession of a specific phone or other electronic device.

Hochul's $200M 'shovel-ready' boondoggle would destroy a community.  Gov. Kathy Hochul made headlines recently by announcing the FAST NY Shovel-Ready Grant Program, which promises up to $200 million to attract high-tech industry, especially semiconductor manufacturers, to New York by developing potential sites statewide.  The release cites the White Pine Commerce Park in Onondaga County, which Hochul visited this year (bringing along Sen. Chuck Schumer and US Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves) to tout efforts to lure a chip-maker there with huge amounts of state and federal money.  But Hochul doesn't mention that the White Pine site she wants to offer up to the semiconductor manufacturer is far from "shovel-ready" — in fact, it's already taken.  It's taken by Paul and Robin Richer, who live there in a home Paul's dad built himself in the 1950s on rural Burnet Road.  And it's taken by their neighbors, many of whom also live in the homes they grew up in as children.  County officials plan to use eminent domain to take the homes in this longstanding community, bulldoze them and turn the land over to a private company.

Democrat Congressman Suggests the Redistribution of Trucks.  In the wake of the Freedom Convoy in Canada, there's a convoy of American trucks heading to Washington, D.C. in time for next week's State of the Union address. [...] And now, one Democrat congressman has an idea that may or may not be a joke, but it's definitely a way to one-up Justin Trudeau.  Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) quote tweeted an article about the American convoy on its way to D.C. by saying, "Perfect time to impound and give the trucks to small trucking companies looking to expand their business."  [Tweet]  Yes, you read that right.  Gallego has suggested — possibly tongue-in-cheek, but who really knows these days — that the feds seize the trucks and redistribute them to other companies.

Ottawa Mayor wants to sell off the Freedom Convoy trucks.  Most of the action we've been seeing in Canada as part of Justin Trudeau's almost unbelievable "Emergencies Act" declaration has come from the Prime Minister himself.  He's been ordering financial institutions to freeze people's assets and block their transactions (or at least trying to) and allowing the arrest and confinement of people who have committed no acts of violence or property damage.  But Trudeau isn't the only one getting in on the emergency power game.  As our Redstate colleague Madeline Leesman reported today, the Mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson, has clearly seen the benefits of exerting some totalitarian power of his own.  He plans on confiscating and selling off the trucks that took part in the convoy.  But to put a little bit of positive spin on the situation, he's at least consulting with the Parliament before doing it.

Ottawa Mayor Announces Cars Seized During Freedom Protests Should be Sold to Cover Costs Incurred by City.  The regime is very upset with the serfs.  How dare they challenge Justin's ridiculous COVID orders!  [Tweet]  Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told the CBC that the regime has the power to do this now that the Emergency Act was invoked by Prime Minister Trudeau.  [Tweet]

Progressives, Thou Shalt Not Steal.  When the State seizes what you own, what is taken does not make others rich or even well off.  What is seized finds its way into the pockets of the political elite and their supporters. [...] This is precisely what is happening under Biden's policies.  Workers are staying home, even with 10 million job openings; productivity is falling; and shortages are appearing.  Supply chain shortages have given rise to hoarding on the part of fearful consumers, and hoarding causes further shortages.  And at the heart of the supply-chain crisis lies government support for those who refuse to work.  Once the State has no compunction about stealing on a massive scale, why would it hesitate to take life as well?

'David Burge' Goes Ballistic Over Civil Asset Forfeiture After Dallas Cops Snatch $100K From Innocent Woman.  On Tuesday, CBS Dallas glorified an incident at Dallas Love Field Airport in which a 25-year-old woman traveling with $100,000 in cash had it seized by the cops in what's known as civil asset forfeiture. [...] In short, the network spun an egregious theft from an innocent, uncharged citizen by making it about a 'cute' police K-9. [...] And where does that confiscated money go?  It stays right there with the cops, natch, so they can spend it on surplus armored MRAPs and such, a reward for keeping us citizens safe from the danger of people driving around with cash.

"Cash Is Not A Crime": The Raw Tyranny Of Civil Asset Forfeiture.  On May 14, 2019, Ameal Woods drove from rural Mississippi to Houston with $42,300 in cash.  He was ready to achieve a major goal he and his wife had worked, saved and borrowed for:  Purchasing a second semi truck for the fledgling trucking business he operated with his brother, and perhaps a trailer, too.  Along Interstate 10 in Texas, however, his entrepreneurial dream turned into a nightmare.  It started when Woods was pulled over by a Harris County sheriff's deputy who claimed Woods had been following too closely behind the truck in front of him.  The deputy asked Woods if he was carrying drugs or money.  Seeking to be cooperative, Woods said he was carrying cash in the trunk and consented to a search of his vehicle.  The deputy proceeded to the trunk, took the money, handed Woods a receipt, and sent him on his way without charging him with anything.

The Editor says...
If following a truck too closely was really a crime, every driver in Houston would be guilty.

The Nature of Tyrants.  Government is always a blunt instrument and men are not angels so to avoid office holders and bureaucrats from abusing the rights of the people they first had to demonstrate there was a compelling government interest in declaring your backyard a wetland or banning a certain activity.  Put another away, it was the duty of the government to make the affirmative argument.  Citizens did not have to justify their rights to exercise them.  They were assumed.  Property is a useful metric in this regard because it is simple and the economic basis of Western society. [...] In the United States, property rights barely exist now.  This story about the Feds smashing into a private business and taking their stuff sounds like something from North Korea or maybe Australia.  For reasons they feel no need to explain, they broke into a private bank vault and stole the property of the customers using the service and refuse to return the property.  By any reasonable moral standard, this is theft and worse, it is legal plunder.  The state is plundering the citizens.  Like all criminals, conmen and sociopaths, the state is throwing up a dust storm of legal points to distract from the moral point at the center.

Federal authorities cash in on safety box seizures as owners fight back.  Married couple Jeni Pearsons and Michael Store aren't wealthy.  Pearsons works at a nonprofit theater in Los Angeles, and Store is a transportation coordinator in the film industry.  The couple has been saving for retirement for years, buying silver here and there when they could afford it.  To keep their property safe, they rented a safe deposit box at U.S. Private Vaults.  They thought everything was above board until news broke earlier this year about a raid at the Beverly Hills business.  The government alleged that the company conspired with customers to sell drugs, launder money, and stash ill-gotten goods.  Armed with a warrant, FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration agents spent five days ripping several hundred safety deposit boxes out of the walls and laying claim to its contents.  Prosecutors argued they were within their rights and that the boxes contained weapons and drugs.  They also took jewelry, precious metals, and stacks of money to an undisclosed warehouse.  Their final haul was worth around $86 million.

FBI says fortune seized in Beverly Hills raid was criminals' loot.  Owners say:  Where's the proof?  After the FBI seized Joseph Ruiz's life savings during a raid on a safe deposit box business in Beverly Hills, the unemployed chef went to court to retrieve his $57,000.  A judge ordered the government to tell Ruiz why it was trying to confiscate the money.  It came from drug trafficking, an FBI agent responded in court papers.  Ruiz's income was too low for him to have that much money, and his side business selling bongs made from liquor bottles suggested he was an unlicensed pot dealer, the agent wrote.  The FBI also said a dog had smelled unspecified drugs on Ruiz's cash.  The FBI was wrong.  When Ruiz produced records showing the source of his money was legitimate, the government dropped its false accusation and returned his money.

Cori Bush, Elizabeth Warren will introduce bill to give HHS power to impose eviction moratoriums.  Progressive lawmakers will introduce legislation this week that will give the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to create federal eviction moratoriums — pushing back against a recent decision by the Supreme Court that ruled the agency did not have the authority to do so.  The introduction of the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., comes weeks after the high court blocked the Biden administration's eviction moratorium, ruling the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not have authority to impose the freeze.  The CDC is one of the arms of HHS.

The case for impeachment.  Article II of the U.S. Constitution requires the President to take an oath to "faithfully execute the office of President of the United States," and "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." The Vice President takes a similar oath, promising to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States." [...] The Supreme Court held that Joe Biden's moratorium on eviction effectively confiscates the private property of landlords without just compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment.  Biden reimposed the moratorium in contemptuous defiance of the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court eviction ruling puts new pressure on Pelosi.  House Democrats and Republicans are clamoring for congressional action following Thursday's [8/26/2021] Supreme Court ruling striking down President Joe Biden's eviction moratorium.  The high court decision on Thursday shifts the moratorium fight back to Congress, where disagreements between parties and within the Democratic caucus have blocked legislative action.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement on Friday opposing the ruling but gave no clear indication about how Congress would attempt to resolve the issue.  The House is not set to reconvene until Sept. 20.

A spot of good news in sea of bad news.  On Thursday [8/26/2021], a grim day, in a depressing month, in a terrible year, there is some good news:  the Supreme Court killed the CDC's efforts to destroy private property.  In a per curium decision, the six non-leftist Supreme Court justices held that the CDC lacks the authority to impose eviction moratoriums.  This is a huge victory, not just for property-owners, but for the American way of life.

Supreme Court Ends Biden's Eviction Moratorium.  The Supreme Court on Thursday [8/26/2021] rejected the Biden administration's latest moratorium on evictions, ending a political and legal dispute during a public health crisis in which the administration's shifting positions had subjected it to criticism from adversaries and allies alike.  The court issued an eight-page majority opinion, an unusual move in a ruling on an application for emergency relief, where terse orders are more common.  The court's three liberal justices dissented.  The decision puts hundreds of thousands of tenants at risk of losing shelter, while the administration struggles to speed the flow of billions of dollars in federal funding to people who are behind in rent because of the coronavirus pandemic and its associated economic hardship.  Only about $5.1 billion of the $46.5 billion in aid had been disbursed by the end of July, according to figures released on Wednesday, as bureaucratic delays at the state and local levels snarled payouts.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Biden Eviction Moratorium.  The Supreme Court struck down the Biden administration's eviction moratorium in a 6-3 decision on Thursday [8/26/2021].  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the moratorium earlier this month to cover counties with "high" or "substantial" coronavirus spread, which as of Wednesday included the vast majority of counties in the U.S. The order was issued after a previous nationwide moratorium instituted during the Trump administration expired on July 31.

Are We in a Revolution and Don't Even Know It?  By continuing to suspend rental payments to landlords who have no redress to the courts for violations of their contractual leases, the government essentially has redefined private property as we know it.  Who really owns an apartment or a room in a house if the occupant has not paid rent since last spring?  Is the de facto owner the renter in physical control of the unit, or the increasingly impotent title holder who must still pay the insurance, taxes, and upkeep?

Major Landlords Sue L.A. For $100 Million Over Eviction Moratorium.  GHP Management Corp. and several other companies owned by developer Geoffrey Palmer are suing the City of Los Angeles for $100 million over its eviction moratorium, saying the policy has resulted in massive losses to the firm.  The suit further alleges that the plaintiffs cannot find help from banks, who will not refinance mortgages on properties that fall under the city's eviction moratorium.  The Biden administration and Democrats in state and local governments have cast such moratoria as measures to protect the poor, but they could hurt the poor in the long run by making it less likely that developers will build housing in Democrat-run cities, or that they will invest in low-income housing at all.

How States Could Constitutionally Assume Abandoned Responsibilities of the National Government.  The COVID pandemic has witnessed the exercise of state "police powers" on a scale and scope unprecedented in America's peacetime history.  Out of fear of contagion, massive amounts of private property in the form of shops, restaurants, bars, and other businesses were peremptorily seized and shuttered.  The rights of landlords to collect rents and evict tenants were suspended.  The ability of people to cross from one state to another was hobbled by regulations, quarantines, and delays.  And most of this was accomplished by governors and mayors acting by decree, with only the most tenuous of statutory authorizations.  Initially implemented for what was to have been a brief period of medical unreadiness, the restrictions and impositions were extended month after month in the name of protecting Americans from a threat the specific magnitude of which was never clearly defined.  Although some raised concerns about the legality of and need for these coercions, most Americans obediently submitted to them.

Tenant Eviction Moratoria Are More Than Unconstitutional; They're Insurrectionary.  State and federal tenant eviction moratoria go beyond "unconstitutional."  They're a direct assault on the constitutional order itself.  They represent insurrection from above.  I'm not prone to overstatement.  Read on.  Surf the web, and you'll find many critics of the moratoria — even in the establishment media.  Under special fire is President Joe Biden's purported extension of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) federal moratorium.  Critics note that Biden has been able to cite no legal support for his action.  Critics also argue that the CDC's order exceeds the scope of Congress's authorizing statute and of the regulation issued under it.  A majority of the Supreme Court agrees with this position.  Critics further claim that if we do read Congress's statute broadly enough to authorize the CDC's order, then Congress exceeded its power to delegate to an executive agency.  While they acknowledge that the modern Supreme Court has expanded greatly the scope of Congress's power under the Constitution's Commerce and the Necessary and Proper Clauses, they contend that the order exceeds the scope of this expansion.

The Bill Comes Due After the DOJ Capitalizes on Brett Kavanaugh's Cowardice.  As I feared, Brett Kavanaugh's cowardice in not vacating the stay on the original eviction moratorium is coming back to haunt property owners across the country.  In my previous pieces on this topic, I noted that Kavanaugh had the chance to join the conservatives, vacate the stay on the original moratorium, and do so in a way that clearly prevents any future issuance given how blatantly unconstitutional this theft of property is.  Instead, perhaps in some misguided attempt to get the left to love him, the Trump-appointed justice joined the liberals, allowing the moratorium to continue and expire.  By doing so, Kavanaugh created a path for Joe Biden and the CDC to essentially game the system, bankrupting more landlords before any new challenge can make it through the courts.  Biden admitted yesterday that is their plan.

Biden's Unprecedented Attack on the Constitution.  Joe Biden certainly isn't the first president to violate his oath of office, but he might be the first in memory to openly brag about doing it.  As Biden announced a new "eviction moratorium," he informed Americans that the "bulk of constitutional scholars" would say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eviction moratorium is "not likely to pass constitutional muster."  Not likely?  It already failed.  In June, Justice Brett Kavanaugh agreed with the majority Supreme Court that the CDC "exceeded its existing statutory authority," even though he allowed the order to sunset.  The president admitted as much, noting that the new moratorium is meant to give the administration time to act on "rental assistance" before the court again shuts it down.  What stops Biden from stalling and trying a third time?  A 10th time?  Biden admitted to the media that he would be circumventing the courts, the law, and his oath of office, in which he promised, to the best of his ability, to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States," not to infringe on the property rights of Americans to placate crackpot socialists in his party.

'Borderline illegal': Courtesy tows remain Philly's persistent parking nightmare.  Gary Isaacs returned home from a trip to California in January to discover his car missing from its Center City parking spot and two alarming letters in the mail.  The Philadelphia Parking Authority, in a letter dated Dec. 22, informed Isaacs that it had towed and impounded his car.  And a notice from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, dated Dec. 30, warned him that the car was scheduled to go on the auction block.  "YOU ARE HEREBY GIVEN NOTICE," the court wrote, "that the vehicle listed below will be sold at auction and your legal and equitable interest in that vehicle will be extinguished. ..."  Isaacs was mystified.  He'd last parked his 2005 BMW on Camac Street, within the area covered by his parking permit — not in a loading zone on Lombard Street, as the PPA was contending in its letter.  The next day, he called the parking authority, hoping to clear up the misunderstanding.  A woman there said his car had apparently been "courtesy towed" from Camac to Lombard because while he was gone, his original parking space had been declared a temporary no-parking zone, reasons unknown.

Democrats target rich people's retirement accounts to pay for progressive wish-list items in $3.5T spending bill.  Democrats on Capitol Hill are reportedly setting their sights on wealthy people's "super-sized retirement savings accounts" as one way to pay for a litany of progressive wish-list items included in their mammoth $3.5 trillion spending plan.  Politico reported Tuesday that congressional Democrats are "aghast" that some people have managed their wealth responsibly and amassed multimillion-dollar individual retirement accounts while others have next to nothing — an unacceptable imbalance in the democratic-socialist state the lawmakers hope to create.  These so-called "Mega-IRAs" are said to be on the table to "bankroll their multitrillion-dollar plan of liberal spending priorities."

President Biden Announces on Live TV That He Intends to Break His Oath of Office.  President Biden knows that the CDC's eviction moratorium is illegal, having, per Gene Sperling, "not only kicked the tires," but "double, triple, quadruple checked."  He also knows that the Supreme Court has ruled that it is illegal, and that the majority of the legal scholars he has consulted think that the Court is correct.  And yet, because a bunch of progressives have spent the day complaining, Biden announced just now that he intends to violate his oath and reissue the order anyway.  "The bulk of the constitutional scholars," Biden admitted at his press conference just now, "say it's not likely to pass constitutional muster."  Then he said that he was prepared to try his luck anyway.

US seizes $1.6 million 'Epic of Gilgamesh' tablet from Hobby Lobby.  A 3,500-year-old clay tablet that bears the text of one of the world's oldest works of literature and was purchased by Hobby Lobby in 2014 for $1.6 million has been forfeited to the United States, the feds announced.  The tablet, which contains a portion of the "Epic of Gilgamesh," came from the area of modern-day Iraq and was illegally shipped to the US in 2003, the Department of Justice alleged.  The tablet, known as the "Gilgamesh Dream Tablet" because it contains a portion of the poem in which the protagonist describes his dreams to his mother, was sold several times with a "false letter of provenance," according to the DOJ, before Hobby Lobby purchased it at an auction hosted by Christie's for $1.6 million.  Representatives for Christie's did not return The [New York] Post's request for comment.

Affidavit: FBI feared Pennsylvania would seize fabled gold.  An FBI agent applied for a federal warrant in 2018 to seize a cache of gold that he said had been "stolen during the Civil War" while en route to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, and was "now concealed in an underground cave" in northwestern Pennsylvania.  That's according to court documents unsealed Thursday [6/24/2021].  The FBI had long refused to confirm why exactly it went digging on state-owned land in Elk County in March 2018.  After meeting with the treasure hunters in early 2018, the FBI brought in a contractor with more sophisticated instruments.  The contractor detected an underground mass that weighed up to nine tons and had the density of gold, the affidavit said.  The FBI said in the newly released court documents that it feared the state of Pennsylvania would claim the gold for itself, setting up a costly legal battle.  That amount of gold would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  Federal authorities say the dig came up empty.  But the father-son duo who brought a small army of federal agents to the site remain convinced the FBI uncovered something there — and their lawyer is still pressing the case, successfully suing for access to government emails about the dig.

Feds accused of seizing $85 million from safe deposit boxes without 'any legal basis'.  Hundreds of people storing valuables in safe deposit boxes in Los Angeles may never see their cash, precious metals and heirlooms again, unless a federal judge intervenes in the next week.  Several are suing the government for seizing the contents of about 800 boxes as part of a March raid of the storage provider, U.S. Private Vaults (USPV), which was indicted for conspiracy to sell drugs and launder money.  The Institute for Justice (IJ) is seeking class-action status for a May lawsuit by several owners alleging "shocking, unconscionable, and unconstitutional" behavior by the government.  IJ attorney Robert Frommer accused the feds of an "$85 million cash grab" from people who were not accused of wrongdoing.

The FBI Returned This Innocent Couple's Safe Deposit Box.  It Refuses To Give Back Many Others.  "The silence is deafening," said attorney Jennifer Snitko, who briefly choked up on Thursday [6/10/2021] as she exited the West Los Angeles Federal Building on Wilshire Boulevard, home to the FBI's area field office.  She'd just piled into a small interrogation room to meet with two agents.  Rifling through a brown paper bag, she furnished a series of documents and items recently withdrawn from sterile bags marked EVIDENCE.  None seemed more out of place than a folded, thin white paper with a cross.  It was a baptismal certificate.  "Evidence of what?" asks her husband Paul Snitko.  They're still not sure.  Jennifer wasn't there to defend a client.  It was her and her husband in the hot seat, tasked with proving that they were worthy of retrieving a trove of deeply personal items that the FBI seized about three months ago — without a warrant — from the U.S. Private Vaults (USPV) in Beverly Hills, California.

FBI wants to keep fortune in cash, gold, jewels from Beverly Hills raid.  Is it abuse of power?  When FBI agents asked for permission to rip hundreds of safe deposit boxes from the walls of a Beverly Hills business and haul them away, U.S. Magistrate Steve Kim set some strict limits on the raid.  The business, U.S. Private Vaults, had been charged in a sealed indictment with conspiring to sell drugs and launder money.  Its customers had not.  So the FBI could seize the boxes themselves, Kim decided, but had to return what was inside to the owners.  "This warrant does not authorize a criminal search or seizure of the contents of the safety deposit boxes," Kim's March 17 seizure warrant declared.

The FBI Seized Heirlooms, Coins, and Cash From Hundreds of Safe Deposit Boxes in Beverly Hills, Despite Knowing 'Some' Belonged to 'Honest Citizens'.  Dagny discovered that the FBI had seized the contents of her safe deposit box — about $100,000 in gold and silver coins, some family heirlooms like a diamond necklace inherited from her late grandmother, and an engagement ring she'd promised to pass down to her daughter — almost by accident.  She'd been asked by a friend to recommend a convenient and secure location for keeping some valuables.  Dagny searched Yelp to find the phone number for U.S. Private Vaults, a Beverly Hills facility where she'd rented a safe deposit box since 2017.  That's when she saw the bad news.  "Permanently closed."  After a brief moment of panic, some phone calls, and several days, Dagny and her husband Howard (pseudonyms used at their request to maintain privacy during ongoing legal proceedings) figured out what happened.  On March 22, the FBI had raided U.S. Private Vaults.  The federal agents were armed with a warrant allowing them to seize property belonging to the company as part of a criminal investigation — and even though the warrant explicitly exempted the safe deposit boxes in the company's vaults, they were taken too.  More than 800 were seized.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Warrantless Gun Seizure 9-0.  In some ways this was a very narrowly tailored opinion, in that the Second Amendment was not invoked at all, only the Fourth.  And indeed, Justice Samuel Alito' concurring opinion specifically states that "Our decision today does not address those issues" in relation to the constitutionality of red flag laws.  However, the decision was a blow for individual rights against warrentless police seizures in the home.  Also, by explicitly including guns as property that is equally protected from such warrentless seizures, the Supreme Court has properly supported Second Amendment rights against the state's overreach.

This 9-0 SCOTUS Ruling on Guns Shows Just How Extreme (and Dangerous) the Biden Administration Really Is.  Did you hear that Joe Biden's Department of Justice wanted the Supreme Court to rule that police could search Americans' homes for firearms — and confiscate them — without a warrant?  In the case of Caniglia vs.  Strom, this issue was in play.  Had SCOTUS ruled that police could do that, your Second Amendment rights would have been in grave jeopardy.

New Jersey gym owners who refused to close say state 'seized' all their legal defense funds.  The co-owner of a New Jersey gym who refused to remain closed through COVID-19 lockdowns enacted and prolonged for months by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday state officials have "seized" the business' legal defense funds.  "Moments ago @GovMurphy and his cronies seized 100% of @TheAtilisGym legal defense money ($173,613.60) in the middle of our appeals process — effectively and intentionally interfering with our right to council.  If you think that's gonna make us stand down, you're delusional," Ian Smith, co-owner of the Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, N.J., wrote on Twitter.

Justin Amash Introduces Bill To End Civil Asset Forfeiture Nationwide.  Rep. Justin Amash (L-Mich.) on Thursday introduced a bill to end civil asset forfeiture, which allows the government to take property from someone without ever charging them with a crime.  Law enforcement on the local, state, and federal levels can seize assets if they were thought to be used in connection with illegal activity.  That's often based solely on suspicion, though.  Many people never receive their items back, even if they were acquitted or never charged in the first place.  Since 2000, state and local governments have robbed people of more than $68 billion.  Police often deposit those sums into slush funds for their departments.  What's more, the property seized doesn't necessarily have to have been used by the alleged criminal in question.  Such was the case with Kevin McBride, who had his Jeep taken by police in Tucson, Arizona, after his girlfriend allegedly used it to sell $25 worth of weed to an undercover cop.

Homeland Security Seized $2 Billion in Cash From Travelers at U.S. Airports.  Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and other Department of Homeland Security agents seized more than $2 billion in cash from travelers in U.S. airports between 2000 and 2016, according to a new report by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm.  The institute's report is the first to comprehensively analyze the use of civil asset forfeiture by federal law enforcement in airports, where multiple news investigations have revealed horror stories of passengers having their money taken even though they weren't ever charged with a crime.  Take a case that Reason covered:  Rustem Kazazi, a U.S. citizen who tried in 2018 to get on a plane to return to his native Albania from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.  Kazazi had roughly $58,000 in cash in his luggage, money he said he was taking to repair a house he owned and possibly to buy another.  Kazazi was strip-searched by CBP agents, who also seized his life savings.  The agency claimed the cash was "involved in a smuggling/drug trafficking/money laundering operation," despite there being no proof of that.

Woman Turns to Supreme Court to Get Her Guns Back.  In 2013, Lori Rodriguez called San Jose police to her home because her husband was having a mental health crisis and making violent threats.  Seven years later, she is petitioning the Supreme Court to force the city to return her guns.  "It's not right.  I shouldn't have to do this to get back what's mine," Rodriguez told the Washington Free Beacon.  "They violated several of my constitutional rights."  Rodriguez claims police ordered her to open the couple's gun safe so they could seize all of the weapons in the home after her husband was detained for making threats that the city says included "shooting up schools."  Cops seized not only her husband's weapons but also the guns that were personally registered to Rodriguez.  The city has repeatedly rebuffed her requests to return her property.

Bill designed to clamp down on property seizures in Arizona advances.  Arizona lawmakers are moving to erect new hurdles to protect individuals from having their property seized by the state.  SB 1556 would end the ability of prosecutors to be able to take property simply by convincing a judge that it is connected to criminal activity.  Instead, they would have to actually first convict someone of a crime.  The 6-4 vote Wednesday [5/20/2020] by the House Judiciary Committee came over the objections of prosecutors who argued that it would impair their ability to protect Arizonans from criminal activity.  But Sen. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, who crafted the change, said their real objection is that the current law allows prosecutors — and the police agencies involved in the case — to keep what they seize.

COVID-19 Panic Buying Reminds Us 'Price Gouging' Is Good.  One of the most absurd and infuriating stories that illustrates how foolish it is to crack down on entrepreneurship comes from 2005's Hurricane Katrina disaster.  When John Shepperson saw many had lost power from the storm and needed generators to restore electricity to their homes, he was inspired.  The Kentucky resident bought 19 generators, rented a truck, and drove "600 miles to a part of Mississippi that had no electricity," John Stossel reported.  While he could have probably charged more, he offered to sell the generators for twice what he paid for them.  "People were eager to buy," says Stossel.  "But Mississippi police said that was illegal."  So Shepperson was arrested for the crime of selling a legal good to willing buyers.  Who, then, benefited from Mississippi's anti-price gouging law?  Not those who needed power.  The police confiscated Shepperson's generators, said economist Mark J. Perry, and they "never made it to consumers with urgent needs who desperately wanted to buy them."

Newsom executive order allows California to commandeer hotels, motels to house coronavirus patients.  Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California Democrat, released an executive order on Thursday [3/12/2020] that includes the authority for Sacramento to take over hotels and motels for medical use for coronavirus patients, in a move he said will help the state of 40 million prepare for any widespread outbreak.  Some patients in the state have already been moved to hotels.  The Desert Sun reported that a 120-room hotel in San Carlos, which is near San Francisco, has been already tapped to house passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship.  The first-term governor told reporters that besides hotels and motels, state officials are also scouting for potential lodging in "mothballed" facilities and state parks.  The executive order, according to the report, has been designed to allow the state's Health and Human Services Agency and the Office of Emergency Services to commandeer private property for coronavirus treatment.

Missouri Cops Used Federal Loophole To Seize $2.6 Million From Drivers Who They Never Charged With Crimes.  A new report uncovers a shocking civil asset forfeiture practice that allowed Missouri police to seize at least $2.6 million during traffic stops in a single year.  As part of a larger series on national asset forfeiture cases organized by the Pulitzer Center, St. Louis Public Radio reported that St. Charles County law enforcement coerced at least 39 unsuspecting motorists into signing over their assets in 2018.  According to the report, officers would lie in wait for a car committing a minor traffic violation.  Upon seeing the minor violation, officers would then pull the car over, question the motorist, and then direct them to a private towing lot owned by Superior Towing.  While in the lot, officers would ask more questions and search the vehicle, all in the hopes of finding large amounts of cash or connections to drugs.

The "Officer-Friendly" Police Fantasy.  Asset-forfeiture laws give police sweeping arbitrary power over Americans' wallets, cars, and homes.  Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher told the Supreme Court in 2018 that the government is entitled to confiscate cars that exceed speed limits by 5 miles per hour — a standard that would justify seizing most vehicles.  Between 2001 and 2014, lawmen seized more than $2.5 billion in cash from 60,000 travelers on the nation's highways — with no criminal charges in the vast majority of cases, the Washington Post reported.  Police have been trained to confiscate private property of drivers by absurdly claiming that "trash on the floor of a vehicle, abundant energy drinks, or air fresheners hanging from rearview mirrors" are signs of criminal activity.

Trump Admin.  Prepares Court Filings to Seize Private Land in Texas for Border Wall:  Report.  The Trump administration is preparing to submit court filings as early as next week as a necessary step toward seizing private land in Texas for its wall on the border with Mexico, NBC reported Thursday.  Administration officials still haven't said how much the government will compensate affected landowners.  "I still think we're on track to get the land we need for 450 miles" of border wall, Acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan told reporters on Thursday [11/14/2019].

The Editor says...
If you own land that directly abuts the international border, and there is not a wall in place already, your land is of very little value:  Perhaps less than zero.  Sorry about the property seizure, but the addition of a wall or fence will increase the value of the remainder of your land.  Maybe you can write off the value of the seized acreage.

America under Attack.  One of the greatest dangers at this time is the unlawful seizure of property through taxation and other legislation.  Bernie Sanders's promise to tax stock market transactions for the sake of paying off student loan debt and offering free tuition in the future is precisely this sort of seizure.  Sanders's proposal would confiscate an estimated $2.2 trillion over ten years, much of it from retirees and small investors.  This massive transfer of funds from one class of citizens to another, based entirely on political expediency, violates the Constitution's protections of equality and its prohibition of unlawful seizure.

High-speed rail route took land from farmers.  The money they're owed hasn't arrived.  John Diepersloot squinted under a bright Central Valley sun, pointing to the damage to his fruit orchard that came with the California bullet train.  He lost 70 acres of prime land.  Rail contractors left mounds of rubble along his neat rows.  Irrigation hoses are askew.  A sophisticated canopy system for a kiwi field, supported by massive steel cables, was torn down.  But what really irritates Diepersloot is the $250,000 that he paid out of his own pocket for relocating wells, removing trees, building a road and other expenses.

John Paul Stevens Is Still Trying To Defend the Kelo Debacle.  John Paul Stevens has had it rough.  In 2005, Stevens, then an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, authored one of the worst SCOTUS decisions of the past 50 years.  Kelo v. City of New London let a local government bulldoze a working-class neighborhood so that private developers would have a blank slate on which to build a luxury hotel, a conference center, and various other upscale amenities.  The city's goal was to erase that existing community via eminent domain and replace it with a new commercial district that would (maybe? hopefully?) fill the local coffers with more abundant tax dollars.  Stevens, the poor soul, has been catching [flak] for this lousy ruling ever since.  Kelo is "the most un-American thing that can be done," declared Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California, an outspoken liberal.

Florida City Tries To Steal an Elderly Man's House Over Uncut Grass.  The city of Dunedin, Florida, wants to foreclose on a private home because the owner, Jim Ficken, owes the city over $29,000 in fines.  The crime for which he is threatened with home loss?  Having his lawn grass be too tall (over 10 inches) for a period of eight weeks last summer.  The city fined him $500 per day of violation, with no warning.  Ficken was out of town at the time, settling his mother's estate.  Ficken hired a handyman to deal with his lawn while he tended to his dying mother and then to her estate, but in a cruel twist, the handyman also died during the Fickens' ordeal, leaving the lawn uncut.

8 Times Barack Obama Abused His Power To Appease His Base.  [#3] Federal land grabs:  In an effort to cement his environmental legacy, Obama used the final weeks of his presidency to create more federally protected national monuments than any other president — expanding the amount of federally protected land and water by over 550 million acres.  This raised serious questions that he was abusing the Antiquities Act in order to impose extreme environmental restrictions on public land.  While any president has the authority to declare national monuments, the Antiquities Act dictates that these monuments must be "confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected."  That is not what Obama did.  Many of these declarations faced local opposition, but Obama was far too concerned with his legacy to take into account the concerns of those impacted by his actions.

The 'parade of horribles' is here — will the justices revisit Kelo?  America's founders enshrined property rights in our Constitution, not just because they thought it would provide a strong blueprint for a free market but because they saw ownership as an essential human right.  Thus, the final draft of James Madison's Fifth Amendment has no wiggle words or loopholes.  It states unequivocally that private property shall not "be taken for public use, without just compensation."  And yet despite this clear guidance, courts are expanding what can be considered public use, steadily eroding protections in takings law.

A critical Supreme Court victory for property rights.  With each of President Trump's appointments to the judiciary, and especially to the Supreme Court, the activist Left has tried to scare Americans into believing that they are creating judges and courts with no common sense or fairness.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  And clear, non-partisan evidence of this comes through every so often with a ruling that is both revolutionary in nature and broadly agreed to by jurists from widely divergent political backgrounds.  Last week, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement can no longer make grossly disproportionate seizures of property, even from people who owe money after being convicted of crimes.

Confronting Government's Revenue Addiction.  The law of civil forfeiture allows police and prosecutors to seize and keep cash, cars, homes, businesses and property of all kinds without ever criminally charging or convicting the owners.  As originally conceived, it was to be a deterrent by which law enforcement would transfer the ill-gotten gains of crime to the public treasury.  But, as so often happens with governmental power, it has transmuted over the years into a semi-criminal operation in and of itself.

Supreme Court curbs power of government to impose heavy fines and seize property.  In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled to drastically curb the powers that states and cities have to levy fines and seize property, marking the first time the court has applied the Constitution's ban on excessive fines at the state level.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who returned to the court for the first time in almost two months after undergoing surgery for lung cancer, wrote the majority opinion in the case involving an Indiana man who had his Land Rover seized after he was arrested for selling $385 of heroin.  "Protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history for good reason:  Such fines undermine other liberties," Ginsburg wrote.  "They can be used, e.g., to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies.  They can also be employed, not in service of penal purposes, but as a source of revenue."

Federal jury rules government can seize Mongols motorcycle club's trademark.  In a closely watched trial with possibly far-reaching legal implications, a federal jury decided Friday that the notorious Mongols motorcycle club must forfeit the logos worn by its members, finding in favor of prosecutors' novel claim that there is a direct link between the club's crimes and its well-known, trademarked insignia.  The jury's verdict Friday marked the end of the second phase of a trial focusing on forfeiture of assets.  In the first phase last month, the jury found the club, which was established in Montebello in the 1970s, guilty of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering.

They were acquitted of drug trafficking, but Uncle Sam wants to keep their property anyway.  Jerry Shults and his daughter, Amy Herrig, were recently acquitted of drug trafficking charges, but the government is not done with them yet:  It wants to take much of their money and property using controversial federal forfeiture laws.  The father and daughter team behind a vast retail network of synthetic marijuana products called spice is scheduled to go on trial for a second time in Dallas in March.  This go around, they will be trying to stop the government from taking their considerable fortune, including an exotic fishing camp, airplanes and bank accounts worth millions.

California set to seize 1,100 miles of coastline.  The California Coastal Commission is set to empower local government to take thousands of properties through eminent domain along 1,100 miles of coastline to prepare for sea level rise.  Despite California being battered by 4-8 inches of torrential rain and flooding from an El Niño weather cycle, E&E News reported that the State of California in late January will authorize eminent domain authority for local jurisdictions to implement a "managed retreat" policy that will allow taking and demolishing coastal homes and businesses.  The California Coastal Commission circulated an 87-page "Draft Residential Adaptation Guidance" in March regarding how communities could proactively address sea level rise impacts through Local Coastal Programs (LCPs).  Although the CCC draft did not adopt specific retreat guidance, the California Special Districts magazine expects that the CCC will predict a sea level rise of 2.5-5.5 feet and the elimination of 31-67 percent of Southern California beaches by the year 2100.

The Editor says...
Do the California politicians really think there's an impending disaster resulting from rising sea levels?  (There isn't.)  Or do they just want to own all the beaches?

Twenty Things You Probably Didn't Know about Kamala Harris.  [#3] Harris also has been a strong advocate of civil asset forfeiture.  She supported a bill in California that would have allowed prosecutors to seize assets before initiating criminal proceedings — a power now available only at the federal level — if there were a "substantial probability" they would eventually initiate such proceedings.  Besides cases involving violent crimes, the legislation allowed seizures in cases involving such crimes as bribery, gambling, and trafficking endangered species.  Harris endorsed the bill after then-attorney general Eric Holder sharply limited civil asset forfeiture among federal prosecutors.

NYC's De Blasio Threatens Landlords "We Will Take Your Buildings Away".  Communist Mayor of New York City Bill De Blasio plans to spread the news about his Progressive (communist) accomplishments during a country tour, and he might visit Iowa.  He has dreams of becoming president one day.  In his sixth State of the City address, he presented himself as the protector of the working man ready to steal from the evil rich to give to them.  He will gladly seize the private property of landlords he deems unworthy.

Chicago Seized And Sold Nearly 50,000 Cars Over Tickets Since 2011, Sticking Owners With Debt.  According to a WBEZ analysis of thousands of towing records and invoices, the city regularly pulls residents into a nexus of ticket-related debt and car seizures that is stunning in its scope.  In 2017 alone, Chicago booted more than 67,000 vehicles for unpaid tickets.  In about a third of those cases, the driver couldn't afford to remove the boot, and the vehicle was later towed to a city impound lot.  Of those 20,000 impounded cars, more than 8,000 ended up like Botello's:  They were sold off, with the owners receiving none of the sale proceeds.  Instead, the city and its towing contractor pocketed millions of dollars, while residents were left with ticket debt.

Indiana Solicitor General:  It's Constitutional to Seize a Car for Driving 5 MPH Over the Speed Limit.  Civil asset forfeiture is such a farce that it took Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer only about 100 words to twist Indiana's solicitor general into admitting that his state could have the power to seize cars over something as insubstantial as driving 5 miles-per-hour over the speed limit.  Yes, really.

Judge rules in favor of Portsmouth Toyota dealer, says city did not establish need in eminent domain case.  A judge has ruled that officials in Portsmouth have not established a sufficiently compelling need to take 4.6 acres of land from a local car dealer.  In September 2016, city councilors voted to take the land at Toyota of Portsmouth on Greenleaf Avenue to preserve a 1968 sewer line that serves residents on Lois Street and a portion of Middle Road.  A total of 31 homes and a condominium association with more than 100 units use the sewer system.  The following month, the city council appropriated $345,000 to pay owner James Boyle for the property, based on an appraisal that the land was undevelopable, despite his lawyer's objections it is worth 10 times more.

A big win for the little guys.  In a big win for the little people, Philadelphia last week agreed to rein in its civil-forfeiture program and pay $3 million to innocents whose property it wrongly confiscated.  Attorneys with the Institute for Justice sued in 2014 over policies that let law enforcement take property "suspected" of being tied to crime — even when the owner clearly wasn't part of the crime.  The lead plaintiffs were Markela and Chris Sourovelis, whose home was seized after their son was busted for selling $40 worth of drugs outside it.  Neither parent ever did anything wrong.  In fact, they were driving their son to a court-ordered rehab program the day the police took their home.

Philadelphia Will Dismantle Its Asset Forfeiture Program and Pay $3 Million to Victims.  Four years after Philadelphia police seized the home of Markela and Chris Sourovelis for a minor drug crime committed by their son, the city has agreed to almost completely dismantle its controversial civil asset forfeiture program and pay $3 million to its victims.  The Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, announced today that the city had agreed to a settlement in a federal civil rights class-action lawsuit challenging its forfeiture program.  "For too long, Philadelphia treated its citizens like ATMs, ensnaring thousands of people in a system designed to strip people of their property and their rights," Darpana Sheth, a senior attorney at the institute, said in a press release.  "No more.  Today's groundbreaking agreement will end years of abuse and create a fund to compensate innocent owners."

Iowa Supreme Court Closes Warrant Loophole, Slams U.S. Supreme Court For Weakening Fourth Amendment.  The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that impounding a car and conducting an inventory search without a warrant violated the Iowa Constitution's protection against "unreasonable searches and seizures."  Although the Iowa Constitution's provision is similarly worded to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Iowa Supreme Court decided to "stake out higher constitutional ground" and "reach results different from current United States Supreme Court precedent under parallel provisions." [...] Not only is this decision a victory for private property and civil liberties, the case is a potent reminder for how state constitutions can better protect individual rights when federal courts refuse to do so.

The Justice Department Didn't Charge Him With a Crime.  It's Going to Take $39,000 from Him Anyway.  In order to get back any of the money that the New Hampshire State Police took from him, Edward Phipps has agreed to let federal prosecutors keep most of it, even though he has not been charged with any crimes.  The cops took the cash during a traffic stop in 2016. Phipps wasn't even in the car at the time.  The police pulled the driver over for tailgating and for going one whole mile per hour over the speed limit.  A search turned up a bag full of $46,000 cash in the trunk.  Police then brought in a drug-sniffing dog, which came up empty.  Though they have presented no evidence of any criminal act, police took the money and federal prosecutors declared their intent to force the forfeiture of the funds, so they could keep it.  Phipps came forward in July 2017 to indicate that the cash was his, and he said it was obtained legally.

Federal Judge Breaks Up Albuquerque's Car Theft Ring.  U.S. District Judge James Browning, in a decision issued on Monday [7/30/2018], said those features make Albuquerque's forfeiture ordinance inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of due process.  "The City of Albuquerque has an unconstitutional institutional incentive to prosecute forfeiture cases," he writes, "because, in practice, the forfeiture program sets its own budget and can spend, without meaningful oversight, all of the excess funds it raises from previous years."  Furthermore, the program "violates procedural due process, because owners have to prove that their cars are not subject to civil forfeiture."

Georgia Sheriff Buys $70K Dodge Charger Hellcat With Forfeiture Funds.  Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway thinks his department's $70,000, 707-horsepower Dodge Charger Hellcat (black with tinted windows, natch) is a perfectly normal policing tool to buy with federal asset forfeiture funds.  The U.S. Department of Justice disagrees.  The Justice Department sent a letter last week demanding that the Georgia county reimburse it for the "extravagant" muscle car, which was purchased with funds from the Equitable Sharing Program — a federal program that funnels hundreds of millions of dollars a year in asset forfeiture revenues to local and state police departments.

Police Seized Property of Close to 1,000 People in Michigan — Without Ever Convicting Them of Crimes.  Close to 1,000 people in Michigan had their property seized by police or government officials last year even though they were neither convicted nor sometimes even charged with committing a crime.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that we have this information at all.  In 2015 Michigan passed legislation that mandated local law enforcement agencies report more information to the state about the extent of their seizures.  The Department of State Police just released its first report that encompassed all agencies for a full calendar year.  Law enforcement agencies across the state seized more than $13 million in cash and property in 2017.  And while State Police Director Kriste Etue claims in the report's introduction that all those seized assets were "amassed by drug traffickers," that's not really what the numbers show.

Miami Police Return $20K in Glittery Cash Illegally Seized from Stripper.  The Miami-Dade Police Department must return nearly $20,000 in cash to a woman after prosecutors admitted that officers illegally searched her car and seized several lawfully owned guns.  The Miami Herald reports that the department will also pay $3,000 in legal fees to Lizmixell Batista, a dancer at the local Cheetah Gentleman's Club, and her husband, Ras Cates.  The case is textbook example of how asset forfeiture laws and the drug war incentivize constitutional violations and bad police work.

Trump, Ryan, and Walker Want to Seize Wisconsin Homes to Build a Foxconn Plant.  Powerful forces — including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R), the Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn, and President Donald Trump — have aligned, to turn more than 1,000 acres of Wisconsin farmland and family homes into an LCD screen manufacturing facility. Reason visited the village of Mt.  Pleasant to speak with homeowners facing the threat of eminent domain, and the local government officials responsible for acquiring the land on behalf of Foxconn, which is receiving $4.5 billion in subsidies and tax breaks.  The project was sold to the public with a promise of 13,000 jobs and billions in additional tax revenue.  To assemble land for the project, local officials have already declared entire neighborhoods to be "blighted," with the goal of seizing homes with eminent domain, a legal term that typically describes the process of taking property from a private owner to facilitate a public use.

Her "Little Pink House" Was Her Castle Until The Government Said It Wasn't.  If Little Pink House, a new movie starring Catherine Keener and directed by Courtney Balaker, were the usual Hollywood tale of humble citizens abused by a mighty corporation and its political allies, you could expect it to find its way to a happy ending, with the little guys prevailing and their powerful antagonists getting their comeuppance.  Little Pink House isn't that kind of film.  It recounts the true story of Susette Kelo (played by Keener) and her working-class neighbors in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood of New London, Conn., whose homes were seized by eminent domain to clear the way for an upscale private development at the behest of Pfizer, the Big Pharma colossus.  The tiny band of homeowners, represented by idealistic lawyers from the Institute for Justice, fought their eviction all the way to the Supreme Court — and lost.  In one of the most infamous decisions in its history, the court ruled, 5-4, that property owners can be stripped of their land whenever the government decides that a wealthier owner would put it to more lucrative use.

In New York, Blight Is Whatever Officials Say It Is.  Eminent domain abuse has reared its head in East Harlem.  New York City officials plan to seize a family-owned dry cleaning business, raze the buildings, and hand the forcibly vacated land to a private developer.  City officials insist that the property is "blighted," the condition of severe disrepair required to trigger a taking under state eminent domain law.  But as Damon Bae, whose parents opened Fancy Cleaners after immigrating from Korea in 1981, told the New York Daily News, "the only 'blight' was in the [city-owned] vacant lots the city allowed to sit empty" nearby.  In other words, the local government created the very conditions it is now using as a pretext for seizing the property.  Unfortunately for the Baes and others like them, the U.S. Supreme Court rubber-stamped a similar land grab in 2005's Kelo v. City of New London decision.

Making the government less larcenous.  Civil forfeiture is the power to seize property suspected of being produced by, or involved in, crime.  In this Through the Looking Glass, guilty-until-proven-innocent inversion, the property's owners bear the burden of proving that they were not involved in such activity, which can be a costly and protracted process as persons must hire lawyers and do battle with a government wielding unlimited resources.  Law enforcement agencies get to keep the profits from forfeited property, which gives them an incentive to do what too many of them do — abuse the process.  But, then, the process — punishment before a crime is proven — is inherently abusive.

Baltimore police keep 94 percent of seized cash, report says.  Data presented to the Baltimore City Council Tuesday [4/3/2018] revealed that over a period of five years police seized more than $10 million from drug and gambling investigations but only returned $643,000, The Baltimore Sun reported.  The data was revealed after a Baltimore councilman called for "a full accounting of all seized guns, drugs, dirt bikes, and cash over the last five years."

Alabama Senate Considers Curtailing Civil Asset Forfeiture.  The people's representatives in the Alabama State Legislature are considering curtailing the power of the state's law enforcement officers from seizing the property (including the money) of individuals who have not been convicted of any crime.  Some sheriffs and other police agencies do not support this proposal, however.  In fact, two law-enforcement officials are so adamant that lawmakers not revoke this power that they have penned an op-ed in opposition to the bill, and in that article they are remarkably frank about how fruitful the civil asset forfeiture policy has been for cops in the Heart of Dixie.  Just how profitable has the program been in Alabama?  A report published earlier this year revealed that in 2015, Alabama law enforcement seized nearly $2.2 million!  The data was gathered from 14 of the state's 67 counties.  It isn't unexpected, then, that police officials do not want that gravy train derailed.  In their op-ed published on February 12 on, Brian McVeigh, Calhoun County district attorney and president of the Alabama District Attorneys Association, and Dave Sutton, sheriff of Coffee County and president of the Alabama Sheriffs Association, vigorously pleaded for protection of their power to seize people's property without due process.

Dutch Police to Seize Clothing, Jewelry From 'Youths' Who Can't Explain How They Got It.  Have you ever looked at how people dress and wondered how they afford it?  Maybe they borrow them from wealthier friends, or know how to score on eBay.  Or maybe they are criminals.  Authorities in Rotterdam, Holland, are now going to always go with "criminals" — and may seize your outfit right there in the street. [...] We've had civil asset forfeiture for decades in this country, and it's allowed police to seize a lot of private property from law-abiding people.  It's also done nothing to deter criminals.  In fact, it's a good way to make young people resent police on sight.

Don't Register Anything.  Like too many jurisdictions, Hawaii requires gun owners to register their firearms.  Also like an excess of other control-freaky places, the state requires medical marijuana users to register themselves with the state Department of Health.  As it turns out, those who dutifully abide by both requirements find themselves in trouble.  Hawaii may allow the use of marijuana for medicinal uses, and even require registration of its users, but the state continues to regard the practice as a violation of federal law.

Feds issue 4,000 orders to seize guns from people who failed background checks.  Federal authorities sought to take back guns from thousands of people the background check system should have blocked from buying weapons because they had criminal records, mental health issues or other problems that would disqualify them.  A USA TODAY review found that the FBI issued more than 4,000 requests last year for agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives to retrieve guns from prohibited buyers.  It's the largest number of such retrieval requests in 10 years, according to FBI records [...]

Senators Push To Defund Jeff Sessions' Civil Asset Forfeiture Expansion.  Asset forfeiture — a practice that allows police to seize property suspected of being connected to criminal activity, even when the owner is not charged with a crime — has come under criticism in recent years from lawmakers and advocacy groups across the political spectrum.  Police groups and prosecutors, as well as law-and-order conservatives like [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions, argue it is an essential tool to disrupt organized crime by cutting off illicit proceeds.  Civil liberties advocates say it leaves far too few protections for property owners and creates perverse profit incentives for law enforcement.

Has asset forfeiture gone too far?  Truck seizure case sparks outrage, a call for change.  Two years ago, Gerardo Serano — an American citizen, Kentucky farmer and a one-time GOP Kentucky statehouse candidate — was driving his brand new, $60,000 Ford F-250 pick-up truck to visit relatives in Mexico, snapping pictures along the way, when Customs and Border Patrol agents halted him at the border, demanded his cell phone, and asked him why he was taking pictures.  "I just wanted the opening of the bridge.  I was gonna take the opening of the bridge, the entrance of the bridge.  That's all I wanted to do," Serano told Fox News.  As a self-proclaimed student of the Constitution, Serano said he knew his rights, and protested to Customs and Border Patrol agents vehemently when they asked him to unlock his phone. [...] He was detained, but never arrested, nor charged, nor tried, nor convicted.  However, agents did seize his prized new truck.  Two years since its seizure, they have yet to give it back.

Sessions welcomes restoration of asset forfeiture:  "I love that program".  Attorney General Jeff Sessions welcomed the restoration of the practice of asset forfeiture Friday [9/1/2017] in a speech at a law enforcement conference in Alabama.  "I love that program," Sessions said.  "We had so much fun doing that, taking drug dealers' money and passing it out to people trying to put drug dealers in jail.  What's wrong with that?"  Sessions, reviewing some of the steps the DOJ has taken recently under his watch, went off script from his prepared remarks to express his excitement about the restoration of the controversial practice.

Forfeiture Loot Corrupts Justice.  In Ohio during the 1920s, people caught with "intoxicating liquors" could be tried by rural mayors, who were paid for each conviction and authorized to impose fines that were split between the village and the state.  Four decades later, mayor's courts in Ohio were handling traffic cases, which did not reward the mayors directly but generated substantial income for their villages.  According to the U.S. Supreme Court, both of these arrangements violated the right to due process, since the judges had a financial incentive to find people guilty.  Civil asset forfeiture creates a similar problem, encouraging police and prosecutors to take property from innocent owners and turn a deaf ear to their objections.  That is what happened to Rhonda Cox, whose pickup truck was seized in 2013 by Pinal County, Arizona, sheriff's deputies when they arrested her son for installing stolen parts in it.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent.  The United States Government seized more from private citizens than burglars in 2014.  Current federal laws regarding civil asset forfeiture are overstepping private property rights under the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution.  Under the Fifth Amendment it is the obligation of government to provide evidence against private individuals whereas current civil asset forfeiture laws require private citizens to prove innocence.  Civil Asset Forfeiture, where government confiscation is acceptable if it's in the name of protecting the United States against drug lords by taking away private property.  It is time for the federal Department of Justice to catch up with states like New Mexico where the burden of proof is on the state to provide the evidence that the seized property is associated with drug sales, rather than putting the burden on the citizen to provide evidence that their property is NOT associated with the purchase of drugs.  In the fight against justice reform Jeff Sessions, fortunately, appears to be a lone supporter of Civil Asset Forfeiture at the Dept of Justice.

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Abusive Civil Forfeiture Law, Allows Police to Keep $201,000 in Cash from Legal Home Sale with No Proof of Criminal Activity.  In refusing to hear a challenge to Texas' asset forfeiture law, the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing Texas police to keep $201,000 in cash primarily on the basis that the seized cash — the proceeds of a home sale — was being transported on a highway associated with illegal drug trade, despite any proof of illegal activity by the owner.  Asset forfeiture laws, which have come under intense scrutiny and criticism in recent years, allow the police to seize property "suspected" of being connected to criminal activity without having to prove the owner of the property is guilty of a criminal offense.  Lisa Leonard, the owner of the $201,000, had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to compel Texas to return her money, given that she was innocent of any crime.  In a written opinion that denounced the profit incentives that drive asset forfeiture schemes, Justice Clarence Thomas concluded, "This system — where police can seize property with limited judicial oversight and retain it for their own use — has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses."

Policing for Profit:  Jeff Sessions & Co.'s Thinly Veiled Plot to Rob Us Blind.  [Scroll down]  Most recently, under the guise of "fighting crime," [Jeff] Sessions gave police the green light to rob, pilfer, steal, thieve, swipe, purloin, filch and liberate American taxpayers of even more of their hard-earned valuables (especially if it happens to be significant amounts of cash) using any means, fair or foul.  In this case, the foul method favored by Sessions & Co. is civil asset forfeiture, which allows police and prosecutors to "seize your car or other property, sell it and use the proceeds to fund agency budgets — all without so much as charging you with a crime."  Under a federal equitable sharing program, police turn asset forfeiture cases over to federal agents who process seizures and then return 80% of the proceeds to the police.  (In Michigan, police actually get to keep up to 100% of forfeited property.)

An immigrant couple was forced to close their business after the IRS seized and sold their property in a day.  Tony and Somnuek Thangsongcharoen immigrated to the U.S. from Thailand in 1983 and opened Mii's Bridal and Tuxedo.  But after over 30 years in business, their business is gone. [...] The IRS has been found violating the law when it comes to seizures in the past, and now the owner's of Mii's are the latest to accuse the agency of an improper and reckless seizure and sale of their property in a recently filed lawsuit against the U.S.

The New DOJ Guidelines On Asset Forfeiture Are Obscene.  The Justice Department's new guidelines on civil asset forfeiture are an obscenity to our founders and the Constitution they wrote.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions released the directive today he claims will actually help make sure criminals can't keep their ill-gotten gains, but are really just an affront to the Fourth Amendment.  The key factor in the new guidelines is that the federal government no longer has to pay attention to state and local laws which make it harder for police to seize assets without a criminal conviction.  One of the few things Attorney General Eric Holder got right during his tenure was telling federal agencies they had to follow state law with the equitable-sharing program.  Sessions is undoing this policy.

Jeff Sessions Announces Justice Department Will Increase Asset Forfeiture.  U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department will issue new directives to increase the federal govenment's use of civil asset forfeiture, a controversial practice that allows law enforcement to seize property from suspected criminals without charging them with a crime.  Speaking at a National District Attorneys Association conference in Minneapolis Monday [7/17/2017], Sessions said state and local law enforcement could expect changes from U.S. Attorneys in several areas: increased prosecution of gun crimes, immigration offenses, gang activity, and prescription drug abuse, as well as increased asset seizure by the federal government.

IRS shuts down mom and pop dressmaker, sells dresses within hours.  The unmarked vehicles arrived in the morning.  More than 20 armed agents poured out.  Hours later, Mii's Bridal & Tuxedo was out of business after serving customers for decades.  Its entire inventory of wedding gowns and dresses as well as sewing machines and other equipment were sold at auction.  The hastily-called sale held inside the store netted the IRS about $17,000 — not enough to cover the roughly $31,400 in tax debt alleged, court records show.  The balance is now likely unrecoverable.

Civil Asset Forfeiture:  Where Due Process Goes to Die.  Current asset-forfeiture practice, like much that is wrong with U.S. law enforcement, has its roots in the so-called war on drugs.  The practice of seizing assets is ancient:  It dates back at least to 17th-century maritime law, under which ships illegally transporting goods would be seized, along with the contraband inside.  Asset forfeiture was used against bootleggers during Prohibition, but it really came into its own in the Reagan era, when the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 empowered federal and local law-enforcement agencies to take property from drug kingpins for their own use.  The sudden, unlikely inventory of exotic cars and yachts possessed by law-enforcement agencies inspired that great cultural document of the 1980s:  Miami Vice.  Asset forfeiture creates an obvious conflict of interest for law-enforcement agencies:  Because the proceeds go into their budgets, they have a vested interest in maximizing the use of forfeiture in their jurisdictions.  You will be less than surprised to learn that this has produced some serious abuses, and the law-enforcement tool intended to be used against centimillionaire cartel bosses inevitably ends up being used to harass — and loot — nobodies in East Funky.  That is the nature of such innovations in government.  It is why the city won't fix your potholes but the revenue-producing red-light camera is never on the fritz for long.

The IRS Can Seize Your Money Based on a Hunch.  This Bill Would Bring That to an End.  The federal government currently wields a tremendous amount of power over the citizens of the United States, far more than the Founders intended.  One manifestation of federal overreach is civil asset forfeiture.  This practice allows the federal government to confiscate the wealth of its citizens upon the mere suspicion of wrongdoing.  The IRS, not content with expropriating the wealth of its citizens on April 15 every year, has now taken up the practice of seizing funds that have been involved in perfectly legal transactions on the basis of a hunch.

The DEA's Warrantless Cash Grab.  Do you want to know the dirty secret about how the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) confiscates suspected drug traffickers' money?  The truth is, it's not hard:  Agents just go to an airport and wait for cash to drop into their laps.  A March report by the Justice Department's inspector general (I.G.) found the DEA seized a whopping $4 billion in cash over the past decade using civil asset forfeiture, mostly from airports, train stations, and bus terminals.  Contrary to DEA rhetoric, these seizures have little to do with ongoing criminal investigations and everything to do with bringing in money.  In 81 percent of the cases the I.G. reviewed, there were no accompanying criminal charges.

Meet the Texas Lawmaker Fighting Trump on Civil Asset Forfeiture.  When the White House hosted a meeting of sheriffs from across the country last February, President Donald Trump joked about destroying the career of a Texas state senator who supported reforms to civil asset forfeiture laws — a controversial practice where police can seize cash and property of people suspected — but in most cases never convicted or charged with a crime.  Though Trump's comments were meant to support police, they've had the opposite of their intended impact — it's re-energized the push for reform.  Texas state senator Konni Burton was one of many local lawmakers outraged by Trump's comments.

DOJ Budget Ramps Up Funding for Eminent Domain' Land Acquisition' in Potential Effort to Clear Way for Border Wall.  Tuesday's Department of Justice budget proposal asks Congress for $1.8 million to "meet litigation, acquisition, and appraisal demands during the construction along the border between Mexico and the United States."  The money will be used to devote 20 new staff members, including 12 attorneys, to the Environmental and Natural Resources Division's Land Acquisition Section (LAS).  This small section of the DOJ handles litigation that arises when the federal government uses its "eminent domain" power to seize land for public projects.

Will Border Wall Divide the Right Over Eminent Domain?  President Trump's border wall could potentially drive a wedge into the GOP as building the structure would require acquiring private property including through eminent domain, which flies in the face of traditional conservative support for property rights.  Conservative property owners along the border in Texas oppose the wall, according to the South Texas Property Rights Association, which represents more than 600 landowners.

Civil forfeiture has ruined countless lives.  It's long overdue for reform.  According to a report by the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm, the Justice Department's Assets Forfeiture Fund skyrocketed from just under $94 million to more than $4.5 billion between 1986 and 2014.  State and local law enforcement can get a cut of the action, too, thanks to a program that Congress also created in the 1980s.  Under "equitable sharing," police and prosecutors can bypass state laws and collaborate with a federal agency to forfeit property under federal law.  If successful, local and state agencies can even receive up to 80 percent of the proceeds.

Government Burglars.  [Scroll down]  So, exactly what "enforcement" is the inspector general talking about?  Civil asset forfeiture.  You know, that fancy, legalistic three-word phrase for stealing.  Without investigating the source of the money or even harboring minimal suspicion, and obviously without any charge being leveled, much less a conviction, the IRS swoops in and seizes the money in a business's bank account.  "IRS procedures dictate that the overall purpose of its civil forfeiture program is to disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises," notes the TIGTA.  Nonetheless, the report adds, "Most people impacted by the program did not appear to be criminal enterprises engaged in other alleged illegal activity; rather, they were legal businesses such as jewelry stores, restaurant owners, gas station owners, scrap metal dealers, and others."  Why is the IRS going after hardworking business owners rather than criminals?  Simple.  It's easier to rob unsuspecting innocents than devious crooks.

The Other Side of Legalized Theft.  During a meeting with county sheriffs in February, Donald Trump was puzzled by criticism of civil asset forfeiture, which all the cops in the room viewed as an indispensable and unobjectionable law enforcement tool.  "Do you even understand the other side of it?" the president asked.  "No," one sheriff said, and that was that. [...] Civil forfeiture lets the government confiscate property allegedly linked to crime without bringing charges against the owner.  Since law enforcement agencies receive most or all of the proceeds from the forfeitures they initiate, they have a strong financial incentive to loot first and ask questions never, which explains why those sheriffs were not eager to enlighten the president about the downside of such legalized theft.

Clovis Family Wins Lawsuit, Forcing California DOJ to Return 500 Guns.  A Clovis family won a court case against the California Department of Justice that forces the state agency to return 500 guns it had confiscated from Albert Sheakalee.  The CA DOJ raided Sheakalee's house in 2015, alleging he was listed in the state's Armed Prohibited Persons (APPS) database.  Sheakalee's attorney won the case by arguing that the CA DOJ had not notified Sheakalee that he was on the APPS.  Moreover, his attorney, Mark Coleman, stated that "the justice department broke a promise to Sheakalee to keep the raid confidential until a court hearing determined whether he was mentally fit to own guns."  According to the Fresno Bee, Sheakalee was arrested, but he "had no prior criminal history." [...] No charges were ever brought against Sheakelee; nonetheless, the CA DOJ held onto the guns.

DOJ Seized 541 Guns From This Man With No Charges Filed, but He Fought and Got Them All Back!.  A California Federal Firearms License holder who had his entire firearms collection of 541 guns seized with no charges filed against him, has had his guns returned.  Albert Sheakalee, who lives in the Clovis area, went through mental health treatment in 2014.  He has had a clean criminal record all of his life and owns a retirement home.  He is a retired budget director of Fresno Community Hospital, and has held a FFL for more than two decades.  However, under the Obama administration, the Justice Department went after his guns without any charges or guilt of any crime being obtained, a clear violation of the Fifth Amendments protections that he not be deprived of his rights (specifically the right to keep and bear arms).  A press release at the time by then-state Attorney General, now Senator Kamala Harris barred him from owning guns and brought about a 12-hour raid on his home by the Bureau of Firearms Special Agents on November 12, 2015.  He was subsequently arrested for allegedly possessing illegal firearms.

DEA Seized $4 Billion From People Since 2007. Most Were Never Charged with a Crime.  A report by the Justice Department Inspector General released Wednesday [3/29/2017] found that the DEA's gargantuan amount of cash seizures often didn't relate to any ongoing criminal investigations, and 82 percent of seizures it reviewed ended up being settled administratively — that is, without any judicial review — raising civil liberties concerns.  In total, the Inspector General reports the DEA seized $4.15 billion in cash since 2007, accounting for 80 percent of all Justice Department cash seizures.  Those figures do not include other property, such as cars and electronics, which are favorite targets for seizure by law enforcement.

States Seize Control of Civil Asset Forfeiture.  Last week, in refusing to consider a civil asset forfeiture case on procedural grounds, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas cast doubt that these practices could stand up constitutionally or be sustained by historical practice.  We share his doubt.  Civil asset forfeiture is a procedure where state and federal government actors seize property from private citizens under the suspicion that the property is somehow involved with a crime.  Those citizens are rarely charged or convicted of criminal behavior, but the property is brought into a civil court of law, wherein the government must meet what is usually a low burden to "prove" that property's guilt.

A Monumental Mistake.  In December, in the final weeks of his presidency, President Obama single-handedly created the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah, despite opposition from the state's governor, its congressional delegation, and the local elected officials that represent the area.  Obama did so using his executive powers under the 1906 Antiquities Act, a Progressive Era law that allows presidents to unilaterally declare federal land off limits to most forms of development.  The local backlash was fierce.  Representative Jason Chaffetz called the decision "a slap in the face to the people of Utah."  Governor Gary Herbert said it "disregards the well-being and interests of rural Americans."  And Senator Mike Lee vowed to "work tirelessly with Congress and the incoming Trump administration to honor the will of the people of Utah and undo this designation."

Texas landowners fight federal government over Red River 'land grab'.  In 1941, Ken Aderholt's grandfather built a single-story brick house along the banks of the Red River — a shallow and serene waterway serving as the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma — where the Aderholts have farmed wheat and raised cattle for generations.  The federal government is now claiming the land the house sits on is public.  It declared hundreds of thousands of acres of private land along the 116-mile stretch of river that Oklahoma and Texas share as government property.

THIS is going to "make America great again?"
Interior nominee Ryan Zinke defends expansive federal reach in land policies.  Rep. Ryan Zinke, the nominee to head the Interior Department, will cast himself Tuesday [1/17/2017] as a champion of the federal government expanding its reach over federal lands, in a move that could signal friction with his own GOP colleagues.  He also hinted, in testimony prepared for his confirmation hearing Tuesday afternoon, that President-elect Donald Trump's promised infrastructure plans will include money to shore up the crown jewels of the national park system, many of which are crumbling under a $12 billion maintenance backlog.  Mr. Zinke will call himself an "unapologetic admirer of Teddy Roosevelt," saying the former president "had it right" when he expanded the government's reach to millions of acres of lands.

The Little Rascals Of Government Want Your 401K Account.  The 401(k) was a private industry solution to providing pensions without bankrupting companies.  The program has helped millions of people like me to benefit directly from the stock market's incredible rise since Reagan became president.  Employees squirrel away some pre-tax money in a savings plan, which employers match.  The money is invested in mutual funds.  Then at 59½, they can start drawing money down.

Does Anyone Besides Jeff Sessions Defend Today's Civil-Forfeiture Practices?  For Christos and Markela Sourovelis, for whom the worst thing was losing their home, "Room 101" was Courtroom 478 in City Hall.  This "courtroom"'s name is Orwellian:  There was neither judge nor jury in it.  There the city government enriched itself — more than $64 million in a recent eleven-year span — by disregarding due-process requirements in order to seize and sell the property of people who have not been accused, never mind convicted, of a crime.  The Sourovelises' son, who lived at home, was arrested for selling a small amount of drugs away from home.  Soon there was a knock on their door by police who said, "We're here to take your house" and "You're going to be living on the street" and "We do this every day."  The Sourovelises' doors were locked with screws and their utilities were cut off.  They had paid off the mortgage on their $350,000 home, making it a tempting target for policing for profit.  Nationwide, proceeds from sales of seized property (homes, cars, etc.) go to the seizers.  And under a federal program, state and local law enforcement can partner with federal authorities in forfeiture and reap up to 80 percent of the proceeds.  This is called — more Orwellian newspeak — "equitable sharing."

Lands activists urge Trump to revoke Obama's national monuments.  Western lands activists are urging Donald Trump to test the limits of executive power by revoking millions of acres that President Obama set aside as national monuments, setting up a landmark legal battle over one of the nation's most frequently used environmental protections.  Such a step would be historic.  No president has undesignated a national monument created by his predecessor, and it's unclear whether he has the authority to do so.  But Obama administration critics say now is the time to try to establish a precedent.  They say Mr. Obama has wildly abused presidential power in using the 1906 Antiquities Act to cordon off huge swaths of land and sea — mostly along the West and East coasts — to prevent energy exploration.  In total, he has earmarked at least 553 million acres of land and water as national monuments, far more than any other president.

Forest Service trying to seize private land from Montana ranchers.  Chris Hunter and his co-owners of Wonder Ranch in southwestern Montana have decided it's their time to be brave.  They're taking on the government and fighting for land that is rightfully theirs.  "It is daunting and depressing, we felt afraid and cornered," Hunter told me about the government's actions.  "You feel double crossed by your own government.  You either have to sue them or it's a done deal.  It doesn't feel like America, it feels like we are living in one of the horrible dictatorships that we read about in history books."  The issue is that the U.S. Forest Service likes a quarter-mile-long trail that happens to cut across Wonder Ranch's private land.  For decades, the ranch's owners have happily granted access to both the public and government employees anytime they've wanted to use the trail, which happens to cross through their front yard.  It's been an amicable relationship, but an uncertain one.

Bible-quoting cowboy wants $50 million over seized horses.  "Doc" Mishler says city officials seized his two horses illegally after he rode across the Outerbridge Crossing from New Jersey to Staten Island as part of his mission to raise awareness about child hunger.

DEA Targeting Innocent Americans — Accessing Their Travel Data To Seize Cash Via Civil Assets Forfeiture Laws.  The latest abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws involves air and rail travelers being targeted and fleeced by a federal agency.  The Drug Enforcement Administration is pulling Americans' travel data en masse from airline and Amtrak records, profiling individuals with "suspicious" travel habits, and targeting them for searches as part of the nation's drug interdiction efforts.  But, according to a damning article last week in USA Today, the goal of this massive operation is neither to confiscate drugs nor to make arrests — it's to seize and forfeit cash via civil asset forfeiture laws.  Seize, they have.  Over 10 years, DEA agents deployed at 15 airports across the country have brought in $209 million in alleged drug funds, money that the DEA and its local agency partners spent with little oversight or accountability.  But while agents generated a mountain of cash, they produced hardly any arrests, indictments, or convictions.

For Americans Who Had Cash Seized By Government, a Chance to Get It Back.  According to a GOP source, the IRS told the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee that it will send letters to everyone the agency seized money from for alleged structuring violations, which involves making consistent cash transactions of just under $10,000 to avoid reporting requirements, starting in October 2009.  The GOP source said that amounts to roughly 700 cases, and those involved will have the opportunity to file petitions for remission or mitigation — akin to a petition for a presidential pardon — with the tax agency.  Once petitions are filed, the IRS will review them and determine if the petitioner qualifies to get all or some of his or her money back.

States crack down on government cash grabs.  States across the country are revising laws that allow police to seize a person's cash and property without a conviction, following widespread complaints about agencies profiteering off such legislation, holdovers from the "Miami Vice" cocaine era.  Right now, 47 of the 50 states allow so-called civil asset forfeitures, with New Hampshire set to effectively end such practices, which allow property and currency to be seized even if it's only suspected of being connected to a crime.  The changes in New Hampshire and elsewhere follow numerous, high-profile cases in which Americans have had their cash and other assets seized by state- and local-level police agencies without being convicted and of police departments appearing to aggressively pursue such cases to fill their coffers.

New Mexico Ended Civil Asset Forfeiture.  Why Then Is It Still Happening?  Let's revisit a state law that emerged out of criticism of the process police use to seize assets they suspect are linked to crimes and keep those assets without having to convict the owner of anything.  It's called civil asset forfeiture.  Critics say it's abused by local police departments that see forfeiture as a source of funding.  And New Mexico made news last summer when it passed a law ending that practice.  NPR's Martin Kaste reports on how the new law is working out.

New frontiers in asset forfeiture.  The most common form of property seized is cash.  In fact, carrying large amounts of cash is now in and of itself viewed as suspicion of criminal activity.  People who still do carry a lot of cash today have as much to fear from law enforcement as they do from criminals, particularly if they're planning to fly or drive on a highway that passes through a "forfeiture corridor."  The police theory has been that because most criminals work with cash (probably true), most people carrying a lot of cash are probably criminals (probably not true).  Don't want to be under suspicion?  Don't carry cash.  But the Oklahoma state police are now using some new technology that could make that advice obsolete.

OHP Uses New Device To Seize Money Used During The Commission Of A Crime.  You may have heard of civil asset forfeiture.  That's where police can seize your property and cash without first proving you committed a crime; without a warrant and without arresting you, as long as they suspect that your property is somehow tied to a crime.  Now, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has a device that also allows them to seize money in your bank account or on prepaid cards.  It's called an ERAD, or Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machine, and state police began using 16 of them last month.  Here's how it works.  If a trooper suspects you may have money tied to some type of crime, the highway patrol can scan any cards you have and seize the money.

The Editor says...
This is not an improvement.  It's still based on the suspicion and opinion of a lone state trooper, not a judge or jury.

You Don't Have to Be a Criminal for the IRS to Seize Your Bank Account.  Like many other police agencies, the IRS has extensive and easily abused civil-forfeiture powers.  The idea behind civil forfeiture is that criminals should not be allowed to profit from their crimes, and that their ill-gotten loot — cash, cars, real estate — should find its way to the public fisc.  In practice, that does happen, but forfeiture also provides a sweet stream of lightly overseen revenue for police agencies, hence the temptation to abuse.  As those who followed the horrifying case of former House speaker Dennis Hastert know, there exists a class of financial crime called "structuring," a variation on money-laundering.  Federal law requires banks to report transactions of $10,000 or more.  As a result, criminals involved in cold-cash enterprises such as prescription-opiate trafficking or political corruption often limit their bank withdrawals to amounts just under the reporting threshold in order to avoid detection.

IRS Took $43 Million From Innocent Americans Under 'Structuring' Law.  The IRS has seized $43 million from more than 600 individuals by accusing them of violating "structuring" laws even when there has been no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, according to testimony heard at the House Ways and Means Committee today [5/26/2016].  In 2012, two armed IRS agents went to the farm of Randy Sowers, a dairy farmer for over three decades, to notify him that the IRS had seized the business' bank account, which held more than $60,000.  The agents told Sowers the IRS had done so because of structuring laws.  When an individual conducts a cash transaction in excess of $10,000, according to federal law, the bank must file a currency transaction report with the Treasury Department.  It is unlawful for an individual to break up or "structure" cash deposits into amounts below $10,000 to avoid federal currency reporting.

IRS took $43M from Americans under 'structuring' law without evidence.  The IRS has seized $43 million from more than 600 individuals by accusing them of violating "structuring" laws even when there has been no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, according to testimony heard at the House Ways and Means Committee today [5/26/2016].  In 2012, two armed IRS agents went to the farm of Randy Sowers, a dairy farmer for over three decades, to notify him that the IRS had seized the business' bank account, which held more than $60,000.  The agents told Sowers the IRS had done so because of structuring laws.

First, the IRS Took $68K From Connecticut Bakers.  Now, It's Investigating Them.  [Scroll down]  David Vocatura had made cash deposits of under $10,000 into the bakery's account, but only after a bank employee called the bakery in 2007 to tell them that deposits of more than that amount required them to submit additional paperwork.  "The terminology that they used was never really explained to us in detail," David Vocatura told The Daily Signal.  "We just thought it was an inconvenience or a nuisance for [the bank]."  Regardless of the bank employee's instructions, the IRS agents told David Vocatura that he had broken the law, which gave the tax agency the authority to empty the bakery's bank account, containing $68,382.22.  And the IRS did.

IRS to Face Lawmakers After Thousands Seized From Small Business Owners.  For more than four years, Maryland dairy farmer Randy Sowers has been fighting the federal government, asking it to right what many say was a wrong.  In Feb. 2012, two federal agents told Sowers, who owns South Mountain Creamery in Frederick, Md. that the Internal Revenue Service was seizing more than $60,000 from his farm's bank account under a subset of civil forfeiture laws governing cash transactions.  According to the IRS, Sowers had committed structuring violations.  Structuring is the act of making consistent cash deposits or withdrawals of under $10,000 to avoid government reporting requirements.  But the dairy farmer didn't know he was doing anything wrong, and because Sowers and his wife sold milk at local farmer's markets — where customers paid primarily in cash — they frequently made cash deposits into the business's bank account.

Donald Trump is now threatening the 401(k)s of ordinary Americans.  Who owns the most U.S. Treasury bonds?  China?  Japan?  Saudi Arabia?  The answer:  None of the above.  It's us.  We Americans own almost $5 trillion in Treasury bonds, all told.  That's more than twice as much as China, Japan and all the oil exporting countries put together.  And so when Donald Trump monkeys with the U.S. government debt, as he has in two interviews in the past few days, this isn't just a matter of abstract economics or of sticking it to foreigners.  It's about threatening to take your personal 401(k) out into the back yard and beat it like, as they say, "a rented mule."

How police took $53,000 from a Christian band, an orphanage and a church.  [Scroll down]  Eh Wah managed the band's finances, holding on to the cash proceeds it raised from ticket and merchandise sales at concerts.  By the time he was stopped in Oklahoma, the band had held concerts in 19 cities across the United States, raising money via tickets that sold for $10 to $20 each.  The sheriff's deputies in Muskogee County, Okla., pulled Eh Wah over for a broken tail light about 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 27.  The deputies started asking questions — a lot of them.  And at some point, they brought out a drug-sniffing dog, which alerted on the car.  That's when they found the cash, according to the deputy's affidavit.  There was the roughly $33,000 from ticket sales and donations, much of it earmarked for the religious college back in Burma, according to Eh Wah and the band members.

Obama just gave cops the OK to simply take your stuff.  When Attorney General Loretta Lynch decided late last year that the Justice Department would end the federal civil-asset forfeiture program, criminal-justice reform advocates proclaimed it a "significant deal.  But late last month, less than four months later, the Obama administration reversed itself and reinstated the Asset Forfeiture Fund's Orwellian "equitable sharing" program.  That's a shame, particularly when the only supporters of the policy are the law-enforcement agencies that directly benefit from it.  Indeed, the federal program's combined annual revenue has grown more than 1,000 percent in the last 15 years, filling the coffers of federal, state and local police departments.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent.  After a months-long trip to visit extended family in Cincinnati, Charles Clarke was approached by local law enforcement while preparing to board a flight home to Orlando.  A tip from a ticket agent, who claimed that Clarke's bag smelled like marijuana, had spurred the encounter.  The officers, who were working with the Drug Enforcement Administration, began quizzing Clarke, a 22-year-old African-American and college student, on his travel plans.  They also asked him if he was carrying cash.  Believing he had nothing to hide from law enforcement, Clarke consented to a search of his carry-on bag.  Clarke was carrying approximately $11,000 in cash, money he had obtained through legal means, including his job and student loans.  Before taking his trip, he had decided to bring the money with him because his mother, whom he lives with, was moving and Clarke did not want his money to be lying around for movers to find.

Florida Governor Signs Forfeiture Reform into Law.  Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation that requires law enforcement to make an arrest before seizing property believed to be connected to a crime and increases the evidentiary standard the government needs to permanently keep seized property.  The bill also offers procedural reforms, such as a $1,000 filing fee and $1,500 that the government needs to pay before beginning forfeiture proceedings against seized property.  The bond would be payable to the property owner if the government fails to produce evidence that the property is connected to illicit activity.

New Obama Regulations Will Push Private Retirement Savings Into Government Accounts.  If you thought Obamacare was terrifying, just wait until you read about what President Obama's regulatory agencies are planning to do with your retirement savings.  According to an alarming report in the Wall Street Journal, government regulators at the Labor Department will be implementing new rules at the end of the year that will eventually force private retirement investments into government accounts.  How?  By making private investment options, specifically IRAs, too burdensome, a liability and expensive.

DOJ Restarts Program Used to Take People's Property Without Due Process.  Congress, in 1984, passed the Comprehensive Crime Control Act, which created the Department of Justice's Assets Forfeiture Fund and allowed bureaucrats to develop the Equitable Sharing Program.  Deposits to the fund grew from nearly $94 million in 1986 to $4.5 billion in 2014.  The Equitable Sharing Program is, however, a symptom of the real issue.  State and local law enforcement agencies working with federal agencies, through drug tasks forces or the like, can seize property and allow the federal government to adopt it to begin forfeiture proceedings under federal forfeiture laws.  Federal forfeiture laws lack any substantive protections for innocent property owners.  Seized property can be subjected to forfeiture based on "a preponderance of the evidence," or a 51 percent likelihood that case the government made against the property is true.

Supreme Court Rules Against Freezing Assets Not Tied to Crimes.  The government may not freeze assets needed to pay criminal defense lawyers if the assets are not linked to a crime, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday [3/30/2016] in a 5-to-3 decision that scrambled the usual alliances.  The case arose from the prosecution of Sila Luis, a Florida woman, on charges of Medicare fraud that, according to the government, involved $45 million in charges for unneeded or nonexistent services.  Almost all of Ms. Luis's profits from the fraud, prosecutors said, had been spent by the time charges were filed.

Sneaky feds restart vile, corrupt civil asset forfeiture program.  The federal government is bringing back its Equitable Sharing Program just months after shutting it down.  The "Department of Justice" announced the decision to bring the civil asset forfeiture program back this week, meaning participating local and state law enforcement agencies will enjoy getting a piece of the pie whenever a task force seizes property.

Lawmakers Urge IRS, Justice Department to Return $29K Seized from Dairy Farmers.  A bipartisan group of lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Committee is urging the Justice Department, Treasury Department, and Internal Revenue Service to return money "inappropriately" seized by the IRS under civil asset forfeiture.  Led by Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam, R-Ill., and Ranking Member John Lewis, D-Ga., the group of 14 lawmakers also called on the agencies to give property owners the opportunity to petition the government for funds seized for structuring violations, which involve making consistent cash transactions of just under $10,000 to avoid bank reporting requirements.

Law Enforcement Seized This Oklahoma Man's Truck Without Charging Him With a Crime.  When Stephen Mills learned that the Grady County Sheriff's Department seized his Ford F-250 back in 2010, he figured it would be a matter of days before police returned the vehicle to him and his wife.  It wasn't.

Trump and Eminent Domain.  It's a relatively new phenomenon for the government to seize property on behalf of private development projects.  And yet, so very many of these projects somehow used to get done.  Only one thing is certain when it comes to eminent domain:  Those who have their property seized don't get paid enough for it.  Admittedly, trying to clear out all the homes from a certain area can be a seemingly insurmountable challenge.  But there are free-market solutions.

Beware America, President Obama has put politics into your pensions.  The federal government is going to allow retirement investments to be subjected to politically correct funny business due to a new guidance issued by the U.S. Labor Department that puts the government's thumb on the scale in favor of so-called "socially responsible" investments.  Prior to the Obama administration action, these politically correct investment vehicles needed to match their peers by meeting the same fiduciary standards in order to qualify for inclusion in a 401(k) or pension plan.  In fact, in previous guidance offered the financial services industry, the Labor Department flatly stated that the occurrence of these funds in a qualified pension plan should be "rare."

An unexpected New Year's present from Congress: Property rights.  State and municipal law enforcement agencies make big money seizing property from owners who have not been convicted or often even charged with a crime, on the pretext that it was somehow involved in criminal activity.  The burden falls upon property owners to prove it wasn't, and they might have to go to great effort and expense to recover what's theirs.  It sounds terribly un-American, but it is a routine practice in most states. Some states, such as New Mexico, have already begun to reform it, requiring a criminal conviction before property can be lawfully seized.  When state laws are passed restricting this dubious police practice, the cops sometimes circumvent them by involving the feds.  That's because assets seized through joint federal task forces fall under federal law instead.

The Justice Department just shut down a huge asset forfeiture program.  The Department of Justice announced this week that it's suspending a controversial program that allows local police departments to keep a large portion of assets seized from citizens under federal law and funnel it into their own coffers.  The "equitable-sharing" program gives police the option of prosecuting asset forfeiture cases under federal instead of state law.  Federal forfeiture policies are more permissive than many state policies, allowing police to keep up to 80 percent of assets they seize — even if the people they took from are never charged with a crime.  The DOJ is suspending payments under this program due to budget cuts included in the recent spending bill.

If You Like Your 401(k), You Can Keep Your 401(k): Obama Labor Dept. Sets Stage for Nationalizing Retirement Accounts.  In 2013, in a little-heralded case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected the Obama Labor Department's attempt to punish voluntary retirement plan service providers.  The DOL, under the direction of the controversial, radical leftist Tom Perez, had tried to force providers of 401(k), 403(b), IRA, and related services to adopt a massive new set of regulations known as "fiduciary" responsibilities.  The Seventh Circuit slammed the door shut on Labor and the Supreme Court thereafter declined to hear the appeal, which meant that the Obama administration had lost in the highest court in the land.  Of course for the "most transparent administration ever", that step simply meant that the court's opinion was to be rejected and that Obama would use his infamous pen to rule by executive fiat.

Bureau of Land Management shows contempt for property rights.  Since 2008, the Bureau of Land Management has claimed up to 90,000 acres of private property inside Texas along the Red River as federal land.  For nearly seven years, affected property owners along the river tried to settle these disputed titles with BLM.  And for nearly seven years (and counting), BLM failed to come to the table.  Last month, those property owners — represented by the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Center for the American Future — filed the federal lawsuit of Aderholt v. BLM to end BLM's arbitrary seizure of their homes.  In the past two weeks, the state of Texas and the Texas General Land Office have joined this lawsuit.

Government property map
Uncle Sam Owns This Much Of America.  Uncle Sam owns nearly one out of every three acres in the United States — 640 million acres of the entire country's 2.27 billion acres.  But "a picture is worth a thousand words," according to Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources' Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.  So, his full committee created an interactive map revealing every acre the federal government owns in each congressional district, color-coded by agency.  Those 640 million acres aren't enough for the White House and federal bureaucrats, as they're constantly trying to grab more for environmental reasons, Gohmert says.

George P. Bush [is] Going to Court Over BLM 'Land Grab'.  The Texas General Land Office is bidding to become involved in a property dispute over a 116-mile stretch along the Red River that pits the federal Bureau of Land Management against various deed holders who have claimed ownership of the area in question for generations.  Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush, the son of former Florida governor and current Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, said his agency has standing to join a federal lawsuit challenging BLM claims since it manages the mineral holdings on a 113-acre tract in Wilbarger County that is part of the contested area.

Feds [Took] $4.5 Billion Worth of Private Property From Americans in 2014.  The Department of Justice took $4.5 billion in private property including cash, cars and homes from Americans in 2014, which includes both civil and criminal forfeitures, according to a report from the Institute for Justice.  A majority, or 87 percent, of the forfeitures by the government from 1997 to 2013 were civil forfeitures, while only 13 percent were criminal.  "Under civil forfeiture laws, the government can seize this property on the mere suspicion that it is connected to criminal activity," the report, entitled "Policing for Profit," said.  "No charges or convictions are required."

Donald Trump's Putrid Embrace of Eminent Domain Abuse.  [Scroll down]  In Kelo, the famous Supreme Court eminent domain ruling which Trump has repeatedly praised, the government's land grab wiped out an entire neighborhood, not "a corner of a piece of property."  Similarly, when New York officials wielded eminent domain in order to clear space for the Barclay's Center basketball arena in Brooklyn, the government's bulldozers laid waste to multiple homes and businesses.  An entire city block was erased from the map.  The examples of this sort of eminent domain abuse go on and on.

Government takes family's land near Area 51.  Private land overlooking the secret base at Area 51 has officially been taken from the owners and transferred to the United States Air Force.  Last month, the U.S. Air Force condemned the Groom Mine property when the family who owns it rejected a government buyout they felt was unjust.

Judge: NYC Seizing Thousands Of Cars Without Warrants Is Unconstitutional.  Under an aggressive policy meant to combat unlicensed vehicles for-hire, the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) has seized over 21,000 cars since 2012.  After a seizure, commission inspectors pressure owners to plead guilty and pay hundreds of dollars in fines to recover their property.  The Commission's citywide dragnet not only cracked down those who compete with established transportation companies, but also ensnared regular New Yorkers, who were simply driving their friends, family, neighbors — and even nuns — around the city.  After the TLC seized their cars without warrants, five owners sued in federal court last year.  As they asserted in their complaint, the government cannot "seize property without judicial process and hold the property hostage."

The Government Land Grab Case That Could Forever Change Private Property Rights.  Ken Aderholt was born in Harrold, Texas, and grew up on the state border, news channel 6 reported.  Aderholt's family has been running cattle on land near the Red River since 1941 and hoped to pass the land on to their children as it was passed on to them but the BLM has swooped in to take it and the reason why will stun you.

States go after unclaimed property, use it to patch budgets.  When Americans lose track of money — in neglected bank accounts, paychecks they forgot to cash and elsewhere — state governments are increasingly aggressive in taking control of the cash.

Is The Bureau Of Land Management Attempting A Land Grab On The Red River?  Land disputes between private citizens and the federal government — represented by the Bureau of Land Management — have been a hot topic since the standoff at Cliven Bundy's ranch in Nevada last year.  With the Bundy Ranch incident still fresh in the minds of conservatives who considered the dispute a land grab on the part of the Bureau of Land Management, reports out of Texas — along the Oklahoma border at the Red River — have been circulating for the past year and change.

'Very Little Protection' for Property Owners in Decade Since Kelo Ruling.  A public interest lawyer whose firm represented homeowners in a controversial case regarding eminent domain 10 years ago told lawmakers that the U.S. Supreme Court has left private property owners with "very little protection" if a city wants to take their residences for developmental purposes.  Dan Alban, an attorney for the Institute for Justice, a firm that represents people whose rights, the outfit determines, are being violated by the government, appeared before the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution to say what he characterized as the "infamous" Kelo v. City of New London case can be used to "transfer perfectly fine private property to a private developer based simply on the mere promise of increased tax revenue."

Donald Trump Trashes the Constitution, Endorses Eminent Domain Abuse.  Earlier this week Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told Fox News that he totally supports the Supreme Court's shameful 2005 eminent domain decision in Kelo v. City of New London.  "I think eminent domain is wonderful," Trump declared.  It was not a particularly surprising comment.  After all, as I noted here yesterday, Trump has a long record of seeking to personally profit from eminent domain abuse.  One such incident occurred in 1994 when Trump joined forces with government officials in New Jersey in a legally unsuccessful attempt to kick an elderly widow out of her Atlantic City home in order to make room for a limousine parking for the nearby Trump Plaza hotel and casino.

Critics: Obama Admin. Tries To Hide Land Grab From Western States.  The Obama administration has opted not to list the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), instead using land use plans which basically amount to an underhanded land grab, according to critics.  "The 15 amended federal land use plans the Interior Department is using to substitute for listing the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act perpetuate a top-down, penalty-based approach that ultimately harms sage grouse conservation efforts," Brian Seasholes, director of the libertarian Reason Foundation's endangered species project, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Air Force Is About To Seize 400 Acres Of Private Land In Nevada.  The Cliven Bundy case showed lots of Americans that the federal government is guilty of some pretty egregious abuses of property rights with respect to its dominant position as a landowner in the West, and particularly in Nevada.  But the Bundy situation was one thing.  After all, Bundy's rights in question involved grazing rights on government land and the feds' appropriating his livestock following a sketchy, if not downright crooked, legal process.  There is another Nevada land case which is considerably worse, and that one — which involves nuclear testing, airstrikes and Area 51 — is coming to a head now.

Air Force wants owners to give up property near secret Area 51.  They're being told to take a $5.2 million "last best offer" for their property by Thursday [9/10/2015] — or the government will seize it through condemnation.

Feds fighting to keep cash seized from person never charged with crime.  Federal prosecutors are battling in court to keep $167,000 in cash seized in a 2013 traffic stop, despite the motorist never being charged in the incident and the Obama administration clamped down this spring on such asset seizures and forfeitures.  The case — which highlights the ongoing concerns about the government unjustly seizing money and property — began when a Nevada state trooper pulled over the motorist on a cross-country trip to California.  The trooper stopped Hawaii resident Straughn Gorman's motor-home in January 2013 for allegedly going too slow along Interstate 80.

In Trashing Land, The EPA Has Nothing On The Forest Service.  Americans now comprehend fully the disdain the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has for truth-telling, the rights of others, and the environment. [...] Even so, the EPA has nothing on the U.S. Forest Service.  In documents filed days ago in a federal district court in Arkansas, the agency and its lawyers demand dismissal of a $5 million lawsuit against the United States for decades of tortious use and abuse of a Scot-Irish family's farmland settled one hundred years before the Ozark National Forest's creation made the Forest Service the family's neighbor.  Worse yet, Conner Eldridge, the United States Attorney for Arkansas, argues that, because the Forest Service trespassed upon Matthew McIlroy's farm for years, the government owns the land!  The assertion, which has no factual or legal support, is asinine, absurd, and in conflict with an admonition of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Feds fighting to keep cash seized from person never charged with crime.  Federal prosecutors are battling in court to keep $167,000 in cash seized in a 2013 traffic stop, despite the motorist never being charged in the incident and the Obama administration clamped down this spring on such asset seizures and forfeitures.  The case — which highlights the ongoing concerns about the government unjustly seizing money and property — began when a Nevada state trooper pulled over the motorist on a cross-country trip to California.  The trooper stopped Hawaii resident Straughn Gorman's motor-home in January 2013 for allegedly going too slow along Interstate 80.

Nine Times the Government Stole Americans' Cash, Cars.  Today [6/16/2015], The Heritage Foundation releases "Arresting Your Property: How Civil Asset Forfeiture Turns Police Into Profiteers."  This booklet highlights the important problem of civil asset forfeiture and tells lawmakers how states and the federal government can help fix these broken laws.  The booklet reveals the dark side of civil forfeiture, where the government seizes your property without ever convicting you of, or even charging you with, a crime, and then keeps the profits for its own coffers.

Another 'Barbarous Relic'.  That's the headline over a Financial Times editorial calling on authorities to consider phasing out the use of cash — by everyone, not just governments. [...] In any event, the FT is promoting the idea that cash is another barbarous relic at a time when our own government is moving to attack the use of even moderate amounts of cash in the most startling ways.  This story is being covered by, among others, the Daily Signal, which is published by the Heritage Foundation.  It has released a book on how civil asset forfeiture makes a mockery of property rights and, as Heritage puts it, "turns the police into profiteers."  The stories it has uncovered are heartbreaking.

Arresting Your Property: How Civil Asset Forfeiture Turns Police Into Profiteers.  Civil asset forfeiture is a law enforcement tool with a dark side.  Meant to ensure that "crime does not pay," civil forfeiture laws allow police to seize property they merely suspect was involved in criminal activity.  In many states, law enforcement authorities can keep whatever they seize as profits — leading some agencies to treat civil forfeiture as a way to raise revenue, often at the expense of innocent property owners.  Every American knows that in a court of law they are innocent until proven guilty, but civil forfeiture flips this on its head:  Your property is guilty until you prove your own innocence.

Federal Prosecutors Fight Back After Judge Orders Motorist Be Returned $167K Seized.  After a federal judge ordered the government return $167,000 law enforcement seized from a motorist driving through Nevada, federal prosecutors are fighting the decision.  The U.S. attorney's office in Reno, Nev., filed documents with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, Calif., earlier this month calling on the court to revisit a decision requiring the government to return cash it seized from Straughn Gorman several years ago.  Gorman was never charged with a crime.

Dairy farm fined $30,000 by IRS for depositing legally earned money in less than $10,000 increments.  A farmer in Maryland has been targeted by the IRS for depositing amounts under $10,000, in order to avoid excessive paperwork.  Randy Sowers wasn't doing it to launder money, but merely to avoid the hassles of paperwork meant to catch illegal activity.  Yet the IRS is now treating him like a common criminal, seizing his money.

Dairy farmer fighting feds after IRS milks him for $30,000.  Randy Sowers built his dairy farm over three decades into a thriving business.  After kick-starting with a $100,000 loan, today the South Mountain Creamery has 1,000 cows and 70 employees delivering milk, ice cream and other products to homes in the Washington, D.C., area.  But the Maryland farmer's operation suffered a big setback when the IRS swooped in to seize tens of thousands of hard-earned dollars from his account, claiming he violated an obscure banking law.

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Asks Treasury Department to Return $29,500 Taken From Innocent Dairy Farmers.  A bipartisan group of lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee is coming together to ask the Treasury Department to return nearly $30,000 it seized from Maryland dairy farmers in 2012.  The letter, sent August 11 to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, calls on the agency to return $29,500 the Internal Revenue Service seized from Frederick-based dairy farmers Randy and Karen Sowers through civil asset forfeiture.  The lawmakers also asked Lew to review similar cases and return money seized by the tax agency under the practice.

'Despotic Power' in the Decade Since Landmark Eminent Domain Ruling.  An attorney for the organization that represented homeowners in a controversial U.S. Supreme Court case that made it easier for governments to appropriate property and hand it over to another private entity for economic development purposes said the ruling continues to pose a threat to all landowners and called on lawmakers to address the potential abuse of eminent domain.  Dan Alban, an attorney for the Virginia-based Institute for Justice, told the House Judiciary Committee that studies show that the outcome of the Kelo v. City of New London case, decided by the high court 10 years ago, "disproportionately impacts minorities, the less educated and the less well-off" and provides the government with "despotic power."

SCOTUS Curbs Gov't Property Grab Abuses, Vindicates Extorted Raisin Farmers.  The Fifth Amendment provides that "private property" shall not "be taken for public use, without just compensation."  When I wrote my book, The Original Constitution, I had to address the question of whether the Fifth Amendment phrase "private property" referred only to real estate or whether it included movable goods and other personal property.  The answer is not clear from the text, because the historical record shows that in another part of the Constitution (Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2) the word "property" refers only to land.  Accordingly, I canvassed the history relevant to "takings."  I found an Anglo-American tradition of compensating for seizures of personal property that extended back to Magna Carta and continued to the time the Constitution was drafted.  I concluded, therefore, that the Fifth Amendment protected a right to be compensated for all property taken.

SCOTUS Sides With Raisin Farmer — Deals Blow To USDA Crop Seizures Without Compensation.  The case was Horne v. U.S. Dept of Agriculture.  Essentially a raisin farmer was fined (and the price of his crop similarly assessed) for not forfeiting their harvest to the USDA in a program where the government regulates supply and demand through production controls.  SCOTUS ruled 8-1 (Sotomayor dissent) the U.S. government cannot "take", or force destroyed, farming crops without compensation to the farmer under the fifth amendment "takings" clause.

Supreme Court strikes down federal raisin program as unconstitutional.  Score one for the little guy.  The Supreme Court sided with a renegade raisin farmer Monday [6/21/2015] in his battle against a federal program designed to keep excess raisins off the market.  A majority of justices ruled that the Agriculture Department program, which seizes excess raisins from producers in order to prop up market prices during bumper crop years, amounted to an unconstitutional government "taking."  But they limited their verdict to raisins, lest they simultaneously overturn other government programs that limit production of goods without actually seizing private property.

Bias alert:
Why is the plaintiff described as "a renegade raisin farmer?"

Forfeiture map
This Map Details Whether Asset Forfeiture Laws in Your State Are Good or Awful.  The liberty-loving activists at FreedomWorks has produced a useful tool to examine the quality of civil asset forfeiture laws (the rules that allow police to seize and often keep money and property from busts) across the states.  They've put together a new map that grades each state and the federal government on the basis of the following questions:
  •   What is the standard of proof the government must meet to forfeit a person's property?
  •   Who has the burden of prove innocence or mistake — the government or the property owner?
  •   What percentage of forfeiture funds are retained by law enforcement?

In Chicago, a Public University Tries to Seize Private Property.  Should a public university be allowed to seize private property from people who don't want to sell?  That's what Northeastern Illinois University is trying to do.  The school is located in a north side Chicago neighborhood with an eclectic offering of restaurants and mom-and-pop stores.  Many of the small businesses in the area have been in the owners' families for generations — but that's not what university officials want on their campus.  The university is suing to bulldoze those private businesses and turn over the property to a private developer instead.

Police, Prosecutors Fight Aggressively to Retain Barbaric Right of "Civil Asset Forfeiture".  Efforts to limit seizures of money, homes and other property from people who may never be convicted of a crime are stalling out amid a wave of pressure from prosecutors and police.  Their effort, at least at the state level, appears to be working.  At least a dozen states considered bills restricting or even abolishing forfeiture that isn't accompanied by a conviction or gives law enforcement less control over forfeited proceeds.  But most measures failed to pass.

Brace for [a] Massive Private-Property Land Grab.  The chutzpah of Barack Obama has no limits, and the man has no shame. [...] The small article in my local paper, the Contra Costa Times, was headlined, "With new EPA water rule, Obama again takes executive action on environment."  The fact that it was a small article on the inside of the paper is illustrative that the liberal media find nothing wrong with the president using the power of an executive order to bypass Congress and get what he wants.

This is exactly the treatment you would expect in Mexico or Cuba or North Korea:
DEA to traveler: Thanks, I'll take that cash.  A DEA agent boarded the train at the Albuquerque Amtrak station and began asking various passengers, including [Joseph] Rivers, where they were going and why.  When Rivers replied that he was headed to LA to make a music video, the agent asked to search his bags.  Rivers complied.  Rivers was the only passenger singled out for a search by DEA agents — and the only black person on his portion of the train, [his attorney, Michael] Pancer said.

This took place on an Amtrak train.
Black aspiring businessman has $16,000 life savings seized by DEA agents.  It was a lifetime ambition for 22-year-old Joseph Rivers to arrive in Los Angeles and become a big name in the music business.  And he nearly made it... until a team of DEA agents put a stop to everything by snatching his life savings without even charging him with a crime.  The aspiring businessman from the outskirts of Detroit had managed to scrape together $16,000 and was finally on the train to Los Angeles when the justice department stepped in, reported the Albuquerque Journal.  Officers found Joseph's thousands of dollars stashed in a bank envelope and questioned him about the origins of the cash.

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.  No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Constitution of the United States          
Amendment #14, Section 1.

Public Pressure Forces IRS To Give Back Money To Civil Forfeiture Victim.  After publicly humiliating the Internal Revenue Service, a North Carolina man received more than $100,000 from the agency.  Lyndon McLellan had the bank account for his convenience store seized by the IRS, and at first he wasn't even sure why.  The agency used civil asset forfeiture laws to take McLellan's money without convicting or charging him of a crime.  The IRS said it suspected McLellan was violating federal structuring laws, which prohibit making multiple cash deposits of less than but near $10,000.

Feds to return $107G they seized from NC business owner, attorneys say.  Lyndon McLellan fought the law — and apparently, he won.  The North Carolina business owner for months has been battling the federal government after IRS agents last fall seized $107,000 from him, under a controversial practice known as civil forfeiture.  But his attorneys at the Institute for Justice announced Thursday [5/14/2015] that the IRS and Department of Justice have moved to dismiss the case and give him back his money.  "What's wrong is wrong, and what the government did here was wrong," McLellan said in a statement Thursday.  "I just hope that by standing up for what's right, it means it won't happen to other people."

IRS Seizes Over $100,000 From Innocent Small Business Owner, Despite Promise To End Raids.  Wielding a banking law intended to thwart drug trafficking and money laundering, the IRS has a new target in its sights: a rural convenience store that sells catfish sandwiches.  Lyndon McLellan lost over $107,000 in an IRS raid after the agency seized the bank account belonging to his small business, L&M Convenience Mart in Fairmont, North Carolina. "It took me 13 years to save that much money and it took fewer than 13 seconds for the government to take it away," he said.  Like thousands of other victims of civil forfeiture, the government never charged Lyndon with a crime.  Now, with help from the Institute for Justice, he's fighting back to regain his hard-earned cash.

United States v. $107,702.66: North Carolina Civil Forfeiture.  Lyndon McLellan has spent more than a decade running L&M Convenience Mart, a gas station, restaurant, and convenience store in rural Fairmont, North Carolina.  Then, one year ago, without any warning, agents from the IRS seized his entire bank account, totalling more than $107,000.  With that, Lyndon entered the upside down world of civil forfeiture, where the government can seize and keep ordinary Americans' property without ever charging them with a crime.  The IRS and Department of Justice are pursuing forfeiture of Lyndon's money despite a recent policy change designed to prevent precisely these kinds of cases.

Shriveled grapes, shriveled liberty.  In oral arguments Wednesday [4/22/2015], the Supreme Court will hear the government defend its kleptocratic behavior while administering an indefensible law.  The Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 is among the measures by which New Dealers tried and failed to regulate and mandate America back to prosperity.  Seventy-eight years later, it is the government's reason for stealing Marvin and Laura Horne's raisins.

Frustration continues with aggressive tax-refund seizures.  More than 77 million American have received tax refunds — but others may not be so lucky.  CBS News has been investigating complaints that refunds are being seized by the government without notice.

Uncle Sam may have picked the wrong cash cow.  Randy Sowers always expected the government to show up one day and ask where all the cash he was depositing at his bank came from.  He thought he had the right answer:  from his business selling eggs and milk at farmers markets.  But under a federal law designed to target money laundering, Sowers and his Maryland dairy farm lost a big chunk of that income — $29,500 — to the government.  Three years later, he hasn't gotten any of it back and almost certainly never will.  In the court of public opinion, however, South Mountain Creamery has become a potent symbol for the movement against civil asset forfeiture.

Civil Asset Forfeiture Case Has a Happy Ending.  In 2013, IRS agents showed up at Carole's door and told her they had seized all the money in the bank account for her business, Mrs. Lady's Mexican Food.  But they didn't charge her with a crime.  The only reason her money was seized was the fact that Carole made frequent cash deposits under $10,000.  Even that is not illegal — it just looks suspiciously like a "structuring" method used by real criminals to hide illegally gotten gains.  The problem is, the IRS didn't stop to investigate why Carole made deposits the way she did.  She became "guilty until proven innocent."

Obama holding off on Utah land grab.  Property rights advocates and conservatives were breathing a sigh of relief after President Obama completed his first visit to Utah without turning vast chunks of the state into a new national monument.  Mr. Obama traveled to Utah late last week just as Republican Rep. Rob Bishop, a leading opponent of the president's campaign to declare huge swaths of Western lands off-limits to development, is preparing to unveil a new proposal that would give the state more control over the land-use process.

White House looking to creep into 401(k)s.  Under the false pretense of calling for new and tougher so-called fiduciary standards for financial brokers, advisers and retirement plan representatives, the White House once again horned in on Wall Street's compensation formulas.  However, what the president surely knows is that a vast majority of retirement plans — IRAs and 401(k)s — are in simple fee-based products like mutual funds.

You Say Debt Relief, I Say Theft.  As someone who sides with Germany in the matter of Greek debt, I often hear that creditors should be held culpable for driving deadbeats like Greece to the brink of bankruptcy.  That's true to an extent, but not when the debtor is a government.  Nation-states have confiscatory powers that allow them to do to their creditors what medieval kings did to their Jews.  It's a big mistake to pretend that a country like Greece is more vulnerable than it really is.

Small Justice.  Eric Holder's divisive tenure at the Justice Department is coming to a close, in at least one area, on a somewhat positive note.  Last month, the outgoing attorney general announced that he would scale back the Justice Department's "equitable sharing" program, under which state and local police forces could use federal law to seize property and assets from citizens without charging them with crimes.  When operating on federal mandates, the police departments kept up to 80 percent of the seized assets, while federal agencies "adopted" the rest.  "With this new policy, effective immediately, the Justice Department is taking an important step to prohibit federal agency adoptions of state and local seizures, except for public safety reasons," Holder said.

IRS Seizes First, Asks Questions Later.  When Carole Hinders answered a knock at the front door of her home in August 2013, she was confronted by two IRS agents.  They told her they had just cleaned out the entire bank account of the restaurant, Mrs. Lady's Mexican Food, that Hinders had owned and operated in tiny Spirit Lake, Iowa, for the past 30 years.  The IRS seized more than $32,000.  While Hinders stood in shock, the IRS agents told her that her cash deposits looked suspicious.  Based on that suspicion alone, the IRS had authority to seize her entire bank account using a federal legal procedure known as civil forfeiture.  Hinders protested that she'd get a lawyer and fight the seizure.  She still remembers the disdainful response of one of the agents:  "Well, you can try."

Report: IRS Seized Thousands of Bank Accounts Without Filing Criminal Charges.  The Internal Revenue Service seized hundreds of millions of dollars from thousands of bank accounts over the past decade, often without proof of any criminal wrongdoing, according to a report released by the Institute for Justice this week.  The Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm, said the IRS practiced a "seize first, ask questions later" strategy when it seized $242 million in more than 2,500 cases from 2005 to 2012.

President Obama's 2016 budget targets retirement accounts.  In truth, the president's budget is really more of a "wish-list" than anything else, but it's a good indication of where the administration is headed.  This year's version of the budget included a number of provisions targeting retirement accounts.  That was no surprise, as provisions aimed at retirement accounts have been a regular feature in budgets in recent years.  What was a surprise, however, is how many proposals were targeting retirement accounts, and how many new proposals there were.

Another Step Down The Long, Slow Road To IRA Nationalization.  Bottom line, the Fed is not going to be in a position to write blank checks to the US government indefinitely without becoming insolvent and causing an epic currency crisis.  And when that happens, where else can Uncle Sam go?  Who else will buy his debt?  Simple.  You.  More specifically, your retirement account.

Feds drop controversial forfeiture case led by Obama AG pick Lynch.  After nearly three years of legal battles, the federal government last week dropped its case against the Hirschs, who own a distribution company that serves convenience stores on Long Island.  The government agreed to return more than $446,000 in assets and cash seized by the Internal Revenue Service in 2012 under federal civil asset forfeiture laws, even though the Hirsch family was never charged with a crime. [...] Why was the IRS interested in the Hirsch Family in the first place?  Under federal law, all bank deposits of more than $10,000 must be reported to the IRS.  The Hirschs never deposited more than the legal limit, but the officers who investigated the family wrote in an affidavit that daily deposits ranging from $500 to $9,000 were suspicious enough to seize their bank account.

Eminent domain use for possible Olympic site feared.  Should Boston ultimately be tapped to host the 2024 Summer Games, the use of eminent domain will be a tempting option to help clear prized land for Olympic venues, but deploying it, warns a legal expert, could cause disastrous ripple effects with lasting economic harm.  "There is a long history of using eminent domain to try to promote economic development.  Most of the time what happens is it tends to destroy more development than it actually creates," said Ilya Somin, a George Mason University property law professor.  "It destroys existing businesses and homes.  It undermines the security of property rights and it tends to destroy people's social ties in their neighborhoods."

'Twas the Night Raid Before Christmas.  In the midst of buying your own gifts for family and friends this holiday season, remember that the cops can just as easily seize your property, your rights and even your shark fins.

Cops Seized Couple's $160,000 Wine Collection — And Want to Destroy It All.  The police, who had made undercover buys at the home before, easily found what they were looking for.  And they found lots of it.  In a raid that lasted twenty hours, police seized thousands of ounces of alleged contraband from the couple's home.  In addition to the seizure, police charged Mr. Goldman with a crime.  So just what was it that led police to target the homeowners?  Cocaine?  Marijuana?  Meth?  Raw milk?  None of the above.  This bizarre and infuriating case involves no illicit substance whatsoever.  It's a case about wine.  Legally purchased wine, at that.

The bipartisan plan to end IRS stealing.  The IRS has the power to seize small cash deposits under $10,000.  These deposits seem suspicious because cash deposits over $10,000 trigger a bank report to authorities.  Terrorists, drug dealers, and money launderers all make cash deposits under $10,000 to avoid triggering the bank report.  The illicit practice is called "structuring."  The problem is that many small businesses accept cash payments and make large deposits that happen to fall under $10,000.  Sadly, this attempt to crack down on terrorist funding is used by the IRS to abuse small businesses.

Highway seizure in Iowa fuels debate about asset-forfeiture laws.  By the time the encounter was over, the gamblers had been detained for more than two hours.  Their car was searched without a warrant.  And their cellphones, a computer and $100,020 of their gambling "bankroll" were seized under state civil asset-forfeiture laws.  The troopers allowed them to leave, without their money, after issuing a traffic warning and a citation for possession of marijuana paraphernalia that carried a $65 fine, court records show.  Months later, an attorney for the men obtained a video of the stop.  It showed that the motorists were detained for a violation they did not commit — a failure to signal during a lane change — and authorities were compelled to return 90 percent of the money.

Police Use Department Wish List When Deciding Which Assets to Seize.  The seminars offered police officers some useful tips on seizing property from suspected criminals.  Don't bother with jewelry (too hard to dispose of) and computers ("everybody's got one already"), the experts counseled.  Do go after flat screen TVs, cash and cars.  Especially nice cars.  In one seminar, captured on video in September, Harry S. Connelly Jr., the city attorney of Las Cruces, N.M., called them "little goodies."  And then Mr. Connelly described how officers in his jurisdiction could not wait to seize one man's "exotic vehicle" outside a local bar.

IRS uses drug trafficking and terror laws to seize bank accounts from taxpayers without ANY proof of a crime.  The federal government is using a legal process called 'civil forfeiture' to seize massive amounts of money from unsuspecting Americans — without alleging that they've committed any crimes. [...] In one case, the IRS took $446,000 from a mostly cash-only small business that distributes candy, snacks and cigarettes to convenience stores.  Brothers Jeffrey, Richard and Mitch Hirsch lost that money two years ago when the federal government raided their bank account.  In another, the government grabbed $33,000 from Iowa restaurateur Carole Hinders, who deals only in cash.  No criminal charges have been brought in either case.

Law Lets I.R.S. Seize Accounts on Suspicion, No Crime Required.  For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant.  For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her funds, almost $33,000.  The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime.

Asset seizures fuel police spending.  Police agencies have used hundreds of millions of dollars taken from Americans under federal civil forfeiture law in recent years to buy guns, armored cars and electronic surveillance gear.  They have also spent money on luxury vehicles, travel and a clown named Sparkles.  The details are contained in thousands of annual reports submitted by local and state agencies to the Justice Department's Equitable Sharing Program, an initiative that allows local and state police to keep up to 80 percent of the assets they seize.

Why is Social Security seizing your tax refund over your relatives' debt?  CBS News first met Mary Grice in April after her tax refund of almost $3,000 dollars had been confiscated, she said, without notice.  It turned out the Social Security Administration had seized her refund, claiming her family received too much in death benefits after Grice's father died — in 1960.  Grice, who was five years old at the time, says she never got a penny and calls the loss of her refund an injustice.  "They feel that, 'We're the government, we can do whatever we want, however we want, whenever we want.' and it's so unfair," she said.

Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown.  When it comes to environmental regulation compliance, the Department of Homeland Security isn't playing — as evidenced by a recent federal raid of a South Carolinian's home to confiscate a Land Rover that violated EPA emission rules.  Jennifer Brinkley said she saw a line of law enforcement vehicles approaching her home and wondered what was wrong, the local WBTV reported.  Homeland Security agents then went to her 1985 Land Rover Defender and lifted the hood.  "They popped up the hood and looked at the Vehicle Identification Number and compared it with a piece of paper and then took the car with them," she said, WBTV reported.

Homeland Security Seizing Cars That Violate EPA Standards.  Jennifer Brinkley of North Carolina says when saw a line of law enforcement vehicles coming up her driveway earlier this month she didn't know what to think.  "I haven't done anything wrong."  According to WBTV, the Homeland Security agents were not there to take her away, they were looking for illegally imported Land Rover Defenders.

New York's smallest piece of private land.  The Hess Triangle is a tiny piece of private property in Greenwich Village.  Manhattan historian Joyce Gold explained the origins of the property:  After World War I, New York City seized a beautiful residence and tore it down so it could extend Seventh Avenue and the west side subway below it.  The city left the building's owner, David Hess, only a tiny scrap of property so small it requested he donate the triangle to make way for a sidewalk.  Hess refused, took the city to court, and won.

Atlantic City property owner fights eminent domain case.  Charles Birnbaum wants to keep the three-story brick walkup on Oriental Avenue in Atlantic City that his family has owned for 45 years.  But the 67-year-old may not have a choice.  New Jersey's Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has targeted the property as part of a redevelopment project slated for an area near the Revel Casino Hotel and plans to take it through eminent domain.  Birnbaum's lawyers contested the move today [5/20/2014] before a Superior Court in Atlantic County, calling the state agency's condemnation proceedings unlawful.

The heavy hand of the IRS seizes innocent Americans' assets.  Terry [Dehko], who came to Michigan from Iraq in 1970, soon did what immigrants often do:  He went into business, buying Schott's Supermarket in Fraser, Mich., where he still works six days a week.  The Internal Revenue Service, a tentacle of a government that spent $3.5 trillion in 2013, tried to steal more than $35,000 from Terry and Sandy that year.  Sandy, a mother of four, has a master's degree in urban planning but has worked in the store off and on since she was 12.  She remembers, "They just walked into the store" and announced that they had emptied the store's bank account.  The IRS agents believed, or pretended to believe, that Terry and Sandy were or conceivably could be — which is sufficient for the IRS — conducting a criminal enterprise when not selling groceries.

The heavy hand of the IRS seizes innocent Americans' assets.  The civil forfeiture law — if something so devoid of due process can be dignified as law — is an incentive for perverse behavior:  Predatory government agencies get to pocket the proceeds from property they seize from Americans without even charging them with, let alone convicting them of, crimes.  Criminals are treated better than this because they lose the fruits of their criminality only after being convicted.

The Long History Of BLM's Aggressive Cattle Seizures.  Beginning in the late 1980s, BLM adopted aggressive tactics in the West, leading to large-scale cattle seizures and a disruption of life for ranchers that had utilized public lands for decades prior.  While the press has showered attention on Cliven Bundy, a polarizing man who prompted a tense standoff between Bundy's well-armed militia supporters and federal police, the struggle between ranchers and the BLM is much broader.

Judge Jeanine Links Nevada Land Grab to Solar Energy Plant.  This week, United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid continued trashing ordinary Americans over land grabs.  And you need to be concerned because the land grabs haven't ended.  And who knows?  Will your land be next?

BLM on Texas Land: Not a Land Grab, It's Already Ours.  The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Oklahoma Field Office responded to Breitbart Texas about the so-called Red River "land grab" by emphasizing that parcels in question are already held in the public domain and BLM-managed.  The Bureau claims it is not they who are declaring the ownership but that settled case law long declared it to be government land.

The Land Grabbing Feds.  In October 1980, Gerald Chaffin threw gasoline on his wood-frame home and burned it to the ground.  He did it at the behest of the federal government.  His crime?  The BLM controlled the land on which his home had been located.  He was the third owner of the home, which had stood for 37 years to house oil workers.  His house, the BLM said, was trespassing.  It would have to go.  Three decades later, Americans are still fighting the same battle.

Texas AG Abbott to BLM: 'Come and Take It'.  After Breitbart Texas reported on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) intent to seize 90,000 acres belonging to Texas landholders along the Texas/Oklahoma line, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott questioned the BLM's authority to take such action.  "I am about ready," General Abbott told Breitbart Texas, "to go to the Red River and raise a 'Come and Take It' flag to tell the feds to stay out of Texas."  Gen. Abbott sent a strongly-worded letter to BLM Director Neil Kornze, asking for answers to a series of questions related to the potential land grab.

BLM Eyes 90,000 Acres of Texas Land.  After the recent Bundy Ranch episode by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Texans are becoming more concerned about the BLM's focus on 90,000 acres along a 116 mile stretch of the Texas/Oklahoma boundary.  The BLM is reviewing the possible federal takeover and ownership of privately-held lands which have been deeded property for generations of Texas landowners.

Federal government seizes $424 million in tax refunds from children to pay back old debts owed by their parents.  Hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens are getting shocking letters in their mailboxes instead of tax refund checks — nastygrams informing them that the federal government has seized their money to repay debts their parents decades-old debts that they never settled.  In some cases, they're debts the parents never knew they had.  And no one warned their children.  The 2008 Farm Bill included a single line that made it possible, allowing the government for the first time to hunt down individual taxpayers who have owed Uncle Sam money for more than ten years.

Someone Tucked an Obscure Line into the Farm Bill That Allows the Treasury Department to Destroy Due Process.  The Washington Post has an outrageous story about how the Treasury Department is going after thousands of Americans to collect on debts — which may not have ever been real debts — it says deceased family members owed the government. [...] Except, it's illegal.  Debts owed by the dead do not transfer to their children, to be paid out of their own assets.  Tax refunds are money refunded to Americans because of tax overpayments.  That money belongs to citizens, not the government.  These cases come with no notice, just a letter that the government has intercepted the tax refunds, along with threats that failure to comply may be reported negatively to credit rating agencies.  In [Mary] Grice's case, the government seems to have gone out of its way not to notify her at all.

Feds Stop Snatching Tax Refunds  — Because They Got Caught.  The confiscations without warning that were taking place were allowed because someone — we still don't know who — snuck a change of the statute of limitations into the 2008 farm bill.  So from that perspective, "current law" allowed Treasury to do what it was doing.  But children are not obligated to pay their parents' debts from their own assets, according to the Federal Trade Commission.  Treasury was violating that in taking the children's tax refunds.  And there's the matter of due process, which the federal government was just ignoring outright.  Someone should face prosecution for violating Americans' rights.

People With Old Social Security Debts Get Reprieve.  The Social Security Administration had been participating in a program in which thousands of people were having their tax refunds seized to recoup overpayments that happened more than a decade ago.

Social Security stops trying to collect on old debts by seizing tax refunds.  The Social Security Administration announced Monday [4/14/2014] that it will immediately cease efforts to collect on taxpayers' debts to the government that are more than 10 years old.  The action comes after The Washington Post reported that the government was seizing state and federal tax refunds that were on their way to about 400,000 Americans who had relatives who owed money to the Social Security agency.  In many cases, the people whose refunds were intercepted had never heard of any debt, and the debts dated as far back as the middle of the past century.

Victory! Social Security suspends stale-debt collection program.  Huge win for justice and good sense:  facing a mounting public furor, "The Social Security Administration announced Monday that it will immediately cease efforts to collect on taxpayers' debts to the government that are more than 10 years old." [WaPo]  Credit goes above all to the Washington Post and its reporter Marc Fisher for exposing the most outrageous features of the IRS's refund-interception program last week, as recounted in this space; I like to think I helped as well by beating the drum early and repeatedly since then with Cato's help.  Overlawyered's Facebook post on the subject has been seen by more than 60,000 people and shared more than 700 times in the past few days.

Eminent domain often leaves broken communities behind.  Weeds and rubble cover 90 acres along Long Island Sound.  A room with cinder-block walls sits locked in an empty in Brooklyn basement.  And a gleaming industrial palace has failed to bring jobs to the banks of Ohio's Mahoning River.  These are monuments to failed central planning.  Eminent domain, state and local subsides, and federal-corporate partnerships have yielded these lifeless fruits, failing to deliver the rebirth, community benefits and jobs they promise — but succeeding in delivering profits to the companies that lobby for them.  The economic philosophy at work here isn't capitalism or socialism.  It's corporatism: the belief that government and business should work together.

EPA land grab? Agency claims expanded authority over streams, wetlands.  In what critics are describing as a government land grab, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a change Tuesday [3/25/2014] to the Clean Water Act that would give it regulatory authority over temporary wetlands and waterways.  The proposal immediately sparked concerns that the regulatory power could extend into seasonal ponds, streams and ditches, including those on private property.

EPA Unveils 'Largest Expansion' of 'Authority to Regulate Private Property'.  The Environmental Protection Agency today unveiled its proposed rule to bring natural and man-made bodies of water big and tiny under the purview of the Clean Water Act, sparking accusations that the administration has embarked on an unprecedented breach of private property rights without scientific basis.  This launches a "robust outreach effort" to gather input in shaping a final rule over the next 90 days, the EPA said, maintaining that the rulemaking isn't groundbreaking but a clarification effort needed to clearly define streams and wetlands protection after Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006.

House Republicans lay into EPA 'land grab'.  The Environmental Protection Agency says a rule it proposed this week merely clarifies its existing authority over the nation's waterways.  Republicans say it's "the biggest land grab in the history of the world," as House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., called it.  There is some certainty about the EPA's rule defining the waters of the United States — the buzz it has generated is not going away any time soon.  The EPA, in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers, says the proposed rule would clarify which streams, rivers, wetlands and other waterways are within its regulatory jurisdiction. It would bring a majority of those waterways under EPA control, which drew backlash from conservatives and industry groups.

Driver Who Had $50,000 Seized By A Nevada Cop Is Getting His Money Back.  After Tan Nguyen was pulled over for driving three miles above the speed limit, he had $50,000 confiscated by a Nevada deputy.  According to Nguyen, that money was casino winnings.  As reported last week at Forbes, Nguyen "was not arrested or charged with a crime — not even a traffic citation."  He filed a lawsuit in federal court, arguing his civil rights were violated by an "unconstitutional search and seizure."  In that lawsuit, Nguyen claimed Deputy Lee Dove, who had pulled him over for speeding, threatened to seize and tow his car unless he "got in his car and drove off and forgot this ever happened."

Florida Court Allows Taking Of Private Land To Build A Major League Soccer Stadium.  Last Friday [1/31/2014], the Orlando Sentinel and News 13 Orlando both reported that a Florida Circuit Court upheld the City of Orlando's decision to take private property located on West Church Street to build a soccer stadium for Orlando City SC, which is Major League Soccer's newest expansion team.

More about taxpayer-funded sports facilities.

Small businesses claim U.S. government stealing their ideas.  "They stole all my stuff and used taxpayer money to do it," John Hnatio, a Maryland small business owner, says of the U.S. government.  Hnatio claims the government has put his company, FoodquestTQ, nearly out of business by stealing his firm's software that was designed to be licensed to the Food and Drug Administration to monitor food safety.  The FDA "took our ideas, plagiarized my doctoral dissertation on which a patent was based, and then they infringed on our patent.  The result was that it decimated our business," he adds.

Obama's Plan to Snatch Your Savings.  In his first term, Obama managed to get his paws on health care, banking, energy, student loans, the auto business, and more.  Now he has his sights set on your 401(k).  The left has had its eye on retirement savings for years, but so far takeover attempts have been rebuffed.

And here's how he will do it:
There's Something About MyRA.  By now, you may have heard about MyRA.  The acronym, which President Barack Obama stumbled over in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, stands for My Retirement Account.  Obama introduced the new plan like this:  "MyRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in." On Wednesday, the administration said it will launch a pilot program of the "new, simple, safe and affordable 'starter' retirement savings account" by the end of the year.

myConstitution.  President Obama has just announced the creation of a new program, which he calls myRA, as part of an overarching agenda he's implementing, which could well be called myConstitution. [...] Creating a new type of retirement account certainly doesn't sound like a president carrying out his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.  And even if this isn't technically the creation of a new kind of IRA but merely a rebranding of existing Roth IRAs (it's a bit hard to tell), the administration's choice of language strongly suggests that Obama is engaging in an alternative form of lawmaking — and is proud of it.

Beck Slames Obama "MyRA" Plan: Biggest Heist in History.  Glenn Beck slammed President Obama's "myRA" proposal on his radio program Thursday as a "bigger lie than 'if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.'"  The initiative was unveiled by the president during his State of the Union address on Tuesday as a way to help more people save for retirement.

Expert: Obama's 'myRA' violates multiple investment laws.  President Obama's new and low-budget proposal to help Americans build a tiny nest egg appears to violate federal laws barring retirement plan sponsors from steering investments to self-serving accounts, in this case the Treasury's own bonds, according to a new analysis.  The "myRA" plan Obama unveiled in his State of the Union address would also be outlawed in the private finance world because it offers no investment diversification and amounts to a conflict of interest, violations that call for fines up to $100,000 and up to a year in prison.

NYC alarms with notice: 'Immediately surrender your rifle'.  New York City authorities have been sending out notices to residents who own guns that now violate new ammunition capability laws, demanding they relinquish their weapons — and even though the notifications may just be standard police procedure, the text is a shocker.  At issue:  Weapons that hold more than five rounds of ammo, The Blaze reported.

ACLU Wins Victory Against Border-Agent Laptop Seizures.  A Massachusetts federal judge denied a motion by the government to dismiss a complaint filed on behalf of the organization created to raise legal funds for a soldier accused of leaking information to WikiLeaks.  At issue is whether government agents possess broad powers to search electronic devices at the border without justification.

Cleveland settles federal lawsuit over confiscated gun.  The city of Cleveland will return Derrick Washington's .38-caliber Taurus as part a settlement in a federal court battle over the city's seizure of the weapon, Washington's lawyer says.  The gun was confiscated and never returned even after a city prosecutor refused to press charges, citing a lack of evidence.

Growing Use of Civil Forfeiture Creates Nightmares for Small Business Owners.  Imagine that you run a grocery store with your daughter, a store you have owned for thirty years.  Imagine that just last year the IRS found no violations in an audit of your store.  Now imagine that, despite continuing your sound business practices, you awake one day to find the IRS has seized your entire bank account.  The IRS has used a technique called civil forfeiture against you and you find your Constitutional guarantee of innocence until proven guilty has been completely reversed.  That is the nightmare that Terry Dehko and his daughter Sandy Thomas found themselves in on January 22, 2013.

Give Us Cash or Lose Your Kids and Face Felony Charges.  Imagine getting pulled over while on a family vacation and having small-town cops accuse you and your family of being drug couriers.  Then imagine hearing that you have two options:  Fork over your cash and continue on your vacation or face felony charges for money laundering and child endangerment, in which case you go to jail and your kids get handed over to foster care.  That's what happened to Ron Henderson and Jennifer Boatright while traveling through Tenaha, Texas, a town that regards piracy as just another way to raise revenue.

Greens cheer EPA wetlands proposal.  Business groups and Republicans in Congress have opposed the EPA's move, which they call an unprecedented "power grab" that could give it power to interfere with private lands.  They say that the agency's scientific research has not been thorough enough to warrant a new regulation.  On Wednesday, Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Chris Stewart (R-Utah) sent a letter to the White House's budget office alleging that the EPA was "rushing forward" with its effort to issue the new regulation.  "Such unrestrained federal intrusion poses a serious threat to private property rights, state sovereignty and economic growth," they wrote.

Gangster government in a Seattle parking lot.  Government has increasingly taken on the role of predator, extorting from citizens what it wants on pain of incarceration through its monopoly on the legitimate use of force, and lavishing on its own members higher pay and benefits than enjoyed by ordinary people.  The members of the City Council of Seattle who voted to use eminent domain ought to be hounded out of office in the next municipal elections.  They are tyrants.

Seattle seizes elderly woman's parking lot to turn it into — a parking lot.  The city of Seattle is forcing a 103-year-old woman to give up her private waterfront parking lot to make way for a city-owned parking lot.  The City Council voted Monday to use its power of eminent domain to acquire the lot owned by Spokane resident Myrtle Woldson, who has repeatedly turned down offers to purchase the property, reported.

Eminent Domain Abuse is Making a Comeback.  The use of eminent domain to seize mortgages from investors has been in the news recently.  But, because of efforts to rescind protections enacted by state courts and legislatures, we're likely to hear more about traditional eminent domain abuses:  the seizure of modest, well-maintained homes and businesses to benefit wealthy, politically connected developers.

Bullied by the IRS.  I've always paid my taxes and have never been arrested or charged with any crime in my life.  I am a successful small-business man.  But in January of this year, I woke up to find that my business' entire bank account — more than $35,000 — had been wrongly seized. [...] Adding insult to injury, federal civil forfeiture law does not even grant me a hearing before or soon after they snatched my account.  They've had my money for 10 months.  I've been forced to spend thousands of dollars on lawyers just to get a hearing before a judge.  Even more bizarre, under civil forfeiture, the government's case is not against me, but against my property.  This is why the official case has the ridiculous name, United States of America v. $35,651.11 in U.S. Currency.  This is not just absurd; it's unconstitutional.

California raisin grower battles federal order taking almost half his crop.  As raisin grapes produce only a single crop per season, [Marvin] Horne could lose a hefty slice of his harvest.  But, like all raisin growers in the United States, he is used to having part of his crop taken from him.  Since 1949, the government has been taking its share of their harvests under a Department of Agriculture protectionist order — Marketing Order 989 — originally designed to keep prices high and growers in business.

Left With Nothing.  On the day Bennie Coleman lost his house, the day armed U.S. marshals came to his door and ordered him off the property, he slumped in a folding chair across the street and watched the vestiges of his 76 years hauled to the curb. [...] The duplex in Northeast Washington that Coleman bought with cash two decades earlier was emptied and shuttered.  By sundown, he had nowhere to go.  All because he didn't pay a $134 property tax bill.

Eminent domain and the Sacramento Kings.  Apparently we have arrived in the brave new world where the government can seize the property of private businesses such as Macy's or of individual homeowners and declare that it's in the public interest to put a privately owned soccer stadium in its place.  And this assertion is made in the face of historical evidence, as [Ilya] Somin points out, that sports stadiums almost always turn out to be economic losers for the communities where they are constructed.

Widow Who Lost $280k Home Over $6 Gets Hearing.  A western Pennsylvania woman whose $280,000 home was sold at auction over $6.30 in unpaid interest won a court decision Monday [8/19/2013] allowing her a fresh opportunity to argue she should not lose her home.

Pennsylvania Court Strikes Blow Against Asset Forfeiture Regime.  A Commonwealth Court ruling is being hailed as a victory for property rights and a small blow against civil asset forfeiture laws, which allow the state to seize private property that may be connected to a crime.  In a decision filed last month, Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini called the state's civil asset forfeiture law "state-sanctioned theft" and ordered a lower court to re-examine a recent forfeiture case in Centre County.

Taken.  The basic principle behind asset forfeiture is appealing.  It enables authorities to confiscate cash or property obtained through illicit means, and, in many states, funnel the proceeds directly into the fight against crime.  In Tulsa, Oklahoma, cops drive a Cadillac Escalade stencilled with the words "This Used To Be a Drug Dealer's Car, Now It's Ours!"  In Monroe, North Carolina, police recently proposed using forty-four thousand dollars in confiscated drug money to buy a surveillance drone, which might be deployed to catch fleeing suspects, conduct rescue missions, and, perhaps, seize more drug money.

Eric Holder steals George Zimmerman's gun.  Attorney General Eric Holder has confiscated George Zimmerman's gun.  Even though Mr. Zimmerman was acquitted by a jury in the death of Trayvon Martin, the Justice Department on Thursday [7/18/2013] ordered the Sanford police to put a hold on the evidence from the trial, which includes the Kel Tek 9mm handgun.  It is not clear what federal law or legal procedure allows Mr. Holder to stop a police chief in Florida from returning a firearm to an innocent man.

Avenging the raisins.  Like many New Deal programs, raisin rationing was instituted under the foolish belief that manipulating the market to raise the price of raisins would make more money for the growers and improve the valley's economic health. Hence, the Raisin Administrative Committee, a cartel that dictates how much of the crop will be taken each year to reduce supply.  In 2003, the government board dictated that 47 percent of the raisins grown that year would be confiscated with nothing for the growers.  That was too much to swallow for Marvin and Laura Horne, farmers and processors in Fresno.

The Supreme Court vs. Freedom of Information.  Let's say a resident of New York drives to Virginia in order to visit relatives and a member of her family uses her car to visit a prostitute one night and ends up getting arrested.  The owner has zero knowledge of this illegal activity and is of course never charged with any crime, let alone convicted of one, yet the police still seize the car as part of an asset forfeiture proceeding.  That's the controversial tool allowing law enforcement to take private property suspected of being used to facilitate a crime without first obtaining a criminal conviction against the owner of that property.  Shouldn't the New York-based car owner be permitted to file a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request as part of her efforts to get her property back?  Not in the eyes of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Congress working to strip presidential land grab power.  If you think national monuments are statues of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, welcome to the crazy catalog of federal land grabbing tools.  These "monuments" are actually large areas that are supposed to be small, and can be created out of thin air by the president with the stroke of a pen.  This extraordinary power has been abused by presidents of both political parties time and again to bypass Congress in creating national park-size units — a congressional power — at his own whim to satisfy his Big Green constituents.

Fight for the right to grow raisins.  Since the 1930s, the Agriculture Department has turned California raisin growers into pawns of its Raisin Administrative Committee, which can commandeer up to half of the farmer's crop and then pay them little or nothing for the product.  Marvin Horne, a 67-year-old raisin farmer in Fresno, Calif., was fined almost $700,000 for refusing to surrender control of much of his harvest to the government committee in 2002.  Horne, who has been growing raisins for more than 40 years, has battled the raisin committee for more than a decade and describes its regime as "involuntary servitude."

Obama Wants Americans' Hard-Earned Retirement Savings.  Last year Washington raked in $1.16 trillion in individual income tax revenue and expects to squeeze $1.36 trillion out of taxpayers in 2013.  But President Obama wants more — and he's coming after your retirement.

Here Comes Obama's Raid on Your Retirement.  This sounds like it will only attack the "rich" today, but don't bet on it.  Note that "other retirement accounts" is likely to mean aggregation of all retirement assets, including the actuarial value of pensions and similar.

Obama Budget to Cap Retirement Accounts at $3 Million.  The budget President Barack Obama will submit on April 10 will contain a proposal that would prohibit individuals from accumulating more than $3 million in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and tax-preferred retirement accounts.

The Editor says...
Remember, the income tax originally affected only the wealthy, and affected them only a little.  Tyranny starts small and grows incrementally.

Obama eyes taking millions of acres to save habitat from global warming.  A large purchase in Florida's Everglades, for example, is aimed in part at preserving grasses that can help prevent rising water from flooding the area and destroying animal habitat.  The new strategy, produced by several federal and state agencies and tribal groups, would expand that program to protect habitat under global warming pressure and used by everything from butterflies and robins to foxes and even coral.  For example, more habitat for grizzly bears would be set aside so they can move north as their habitat warms.

Obama admin looking to set aside millions of acres for habitat preservation.  The federal government already manages nearly one third of the surface area of the United States, but inefficient federal bureaucrats, dependent on DC for their funding and often motivated by political externalities, do not make the best environmental stewards — far from it.

Federal plan aims to help wildlife adapt to climate change.  Developed along with state and tribal authorities, the strategy seeks to preserve species as global warming alters their historical habitats and, in many cases, forces them to migrate across state and tribal borders.  Over the next five years, the plan establishes priorities for what will probably be a decades-long effort.  One key proposal is to create wildlife "corridors" that would let animals and plants move to new habitats.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Daniel M. Ashe said such routes could be made through easements and could total "much more than 1 million acres."  The plan does not provide an estimate of the cost.

The Editor says...
"The plan does not provide an estimate of the cost" because the cost is inestimable.  Once again, if you questioned these people, I believe you would find them all to be firm believers in Darwin's "survival of the fittest."  Yet they seem to think wild animals need "corridors" to get to their new homes — assuming the animals can detect any climate change and assuming they elect to move.  These "corridors" will naturally fall right across the land with the greatest petroleum reserves, preventing Big Oil from making money.  This is nothing more or less than another big government land grab.  The people who come up with these ideas don't care about killing jobs and seizing private land.

First, They Came For The Cypriots...  Markets tumbled after Cyprus and the EU said they might tax private bank accounts to pay for a bailout.  Arbitrary property grabs are a new low and a bad precedent in this crisis.  Worse still, it can happen here.

DHS steals TechCrunch founder's boat over paperwork error.  Michael Arrington is a prominent tech blogger, who sold his site Tech Crunch to AOL in 2010.  As such, this particular story of government overreach, starring a gleeful bureaucrat taking the property of a citizen operating in good faith, may get a wider audience than the usual conservatives and libertarians who catch wind of such things.  Good.  For every story that gets attention, there are countless abuses that don't.

The Feds Want Your Retirement Accounts.  Quietly, behind the scenes, the groundwork is being laid for federal government confiscation of tax-deferred retirement accounts such as IRAs.  Slowly, the cat is being let out of the bag.

Utah Resident Forced to Forfeit Gun Used to Stop Home Invasion.  In late January, 64-year old Clare Niederhauser was arrested for shooting at burglars fleeing from his property.  At a plea deal hearing, he apologized for firing the shots, agreed to pay a $700 fine, take a weapons class, and forfeit the weapon he used.  Fellow residents of Layton, UT are coming to the aid of the elderly man, who was arrested after firing a shot at a burglar's vehicle and a fleeing accomplice after they attempted to break in to his property with a crowbar.

What John Adams Foretold Has Come True.  [Scroll down]  What's next?  Confiscation!  "The Obama administration is reportedly moving on plans to nationalize private 401k and IRA retirement accounts, and replace them with government sponsored annuities (aka Treasury bonds that the Treasury currently can't sell to anyone but the Fed)."  Obama has begun a plan to nationalize (aka confiscate) private pensions and to eliminate private retirement accounts, including IRAs and 401k plans.  Think it can't happen here?  Think again!

Is your 401K about to be nationalized?  The $19.4 trillion sitting in personal retirement accounts like the 401K may be too tempting an apple for a government that is quite broke, both monetarily and morally.  The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray recently mentioned these accounts in a recent interview, stating "That's one of the things we've been exploring and are interested in, in terms of whether and what authority we have."

Nature Conservancy embroiled in another land grab scandal.  One of Big Green's biggest outfits, the Nature Conservancy (2011 revenue $997 million; assets $6 billion), is once again under fire.  The new accusation is that it used improper influence over an elderly landowner to get her to donate her family property.  This time it's the 16,500-acre Roberts Ranch in Larimer County, Colo., owned by a 92-year-old woman.

Legislator eyes unused gift card value.  Rep. Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee) said today [12/26/2006] that the value of unused gift cards should go to the state treasury — not to the merchant — and that change will be part of a bill he'll introduce in the legislative session starting in January.  Kessler said millions of dollars a year go unused by gift card recipients, and retailers are allowed to book the unused values after the cards expire.

Europe starts confiscating private pension funds.  Obviously, this is a cautionary tale for America.  If fiscal austerity becomes a real issue in the U.S. the way that it's been reaching critical mass in Europe — don't think that U.S. lawmakers regard your either your personal wealth or money they might owe you as sacrosanct.  Government has a habit of looking out for itself.

European nations begin seizing private pensions.  People's retirement savings are a convenient source of revenue for governments that don't want to reduce spending or make privatizations.  As most pension schemes in Europe are organised by the state, European ministers of finance have a facilitated access to the savings accumulated there, and it is only logical that they try to get a hold of this money for their own ends.

Obama Expands ATF's Right to Seize Guns Without Due Process.  Obama has expanded civil-forfeiture rules making it permissible for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to seize weapons from citizens without the hassle of due process.  This effectively gives Attorney General Eric Holder, of Fast and Furious fame, extended power over guns and gun-related property.  The rules were broadened under the guise of giving the ATF authority "to seize and administatively forfeit property involved in controlled substance abuses."  And if that doesn't strike you as extreme on first glance, consider the fact that this expansion of civil-forfeiture allows the ATF to forego almost all "due process" in making their seizures — in effect, placing the burden of proof on the citizen instead of federal agents.

Judge Says 10 Rare Gold Coins Worth $80 Million Belong to Uncle Sam.  A judge ruled that 10 rare gold coins worth $80 million belonged to the U.S. government, not a family that had sued the U.S. Treasury, saying it had illegally seized them. [...] In 2003, [Israel] Switt's family, his daughter, Joan Langbord, and two grandsons, drilled opened a safety deposit box that had belonged to him and found the 10 coins.  When the Langbords gave the coins to the Philadelphia Mint for authentication, the government seized them without compensating the family.  The Langbords sued, saying the coins belonged to them.

The Editor says...
The moral of the story is simply this:  Don't ever tell the government what you own, if it's made of gold.

Governments mull radical solution to underwater mortgages: seize them.  With millions of homeowners still underwater, some local governments are considering a novel solution:  condemning their mortgages through the power of eminent domain.

Central Radio Company
Norfolk, Virginia Attempts To Silence Free Speech.  Something terrible is underway in Norfolk, Virginia, that should disturb all Americans who value property rights and free speech.  Central Radio Company, which first opened 78 years ago and has been at its current location of 1083 West 39th Street for 50 years, is currently under siege.  First officials at the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority attempted to seize their property in order to transfer it to Old Dominion University, which currently has no specific site development plan for Central Radio's property.  The owners of the company, Bob Wilson and Kelly Dickinson, rightfully objected to the eminent domain proceedings.  They then commissioned a 375-square-foot banner (left) and hung it on their building to protest the taking.

Pushed out and shut up: 78-year-old business fights back against eminent domain, censorship.  One business's eminent domain nightmare has also turned into a case about protection under the First Amendment.  Central Radio Company, a small business in Norfolk, Va., may soon become a victim of eminent domain, but in the meantime it has also been ordered to remove a giant banner protesting the impending seizure.

Sign code as a weapon.  A drearily familiar dialectic is on display here:  Government is behaving badly in order to silence protests of other bad behavior.  It is violating the Constitution's First Amendment, stifling speech about its violation of the Fifth Amendment, as it was properly construed until 2005.

When the looter is the government.  In the lawsuit titled United States of America v. 434 Main Street, Tewksbury, Massachusetts, the government is suing an inanimate object, the motel [Russ] Caswell's father built in 1955.  The U.S. Department of Justice intends to seize it, sell it for perhaps $1.5 million and give up to 80 percent of that to the Tewksbury Police Department, whose budget is just $5.5 million.  The Caswells have not been charged with, let alone convicted of, a crime.  They are being persecuted by two governments eager to profit from what is antiseptically called the "equitable sharing" of the fruits of civil forfeiture, a process of government enrichment that often is indistinguishable from robbery.

County Sheriff Enjoys Fruits of Forfeitures.  The sheriff's office in Douglas County, Neb., just finished a new $4.2 million crime lab and police-dog center thanks to money seized from people driving by on Interstate 80.  That money is a small part of a large and controversial asset-forfeiture program known as "equitable sharing."

Marcy woman forced to sell property in eminent domain battle with MV Edge.  A Marcy woman has spent her golden years fighting her own government for land that's been in her family for more than 100 years and on Thursday [7/28/2011], she lost that battle.

Does your laptop have rights?  For many airline passengers, carrying a laptop or smartphone through security is as familiar a part of the travel ritual as removing their shoes.  But for travelers arriving in the United States from other countries, the process is not always so simple; thousands have had their electronic devices not just screened but confiscated, and sometimes not returned for months.

Stopping the government land grab.  The Virginia General Assembly last week gave its first approval to a constitutional amendment restoring the sanctity of private property in the commonwealth.  The measure was made necessary by the reckless 2005 Supreme Court decision Kelo v. New London, which gave towns and cities free rein to grab land for the use and benefit of well-connected developers.

Whatever happened to Kelo's land?
Years Later, Land Seized in Kelo Decision Used for Debris Dump.  In 2005, Kelo v. City of New London made eminent domain infamous.  The widely reviled Supreme Court ruling gave the go ahead for the city of New London to use eminent domain for taking private property in order that it be given to a private company for "economic development."

Justice apologizes to Kelo.  The New London v. Kelo decision allowed the city of New London to force the Kelos and their neighbors to sell their houses to the city of New London, Connecticut, on the premise that a developer would build something that would generate more taxes.  The state Supreme Court voted 4-3 to go along with this idiocy, as did the U.S. Supreme Court later, 5-4.  The project went belly up and the result is New London lost residents and revenue.

Dreams Demolished: 10 Years After the Government Took Their Homes, All That's Left Is an Empty Field.  Though Kelo and her neighbors lost, the case became one of the most contested in the high court's history, and it sparked reform in the vast majority of the states.  But the land where their homes once stood remains vacant, now a decade later.  The city spent $78 million bulldozing the homes and preparing the area for development, but so far, all plans have fallen through.

Kelo v. New London: Central Planning Does Not Work, Ruins Lives.  First some quick background on the case.  The city of New London, Connecticut, created an economic development plan to please a corporate resident, Pfizer.  As part of this economic development plan, the city used its power of eminent domain to take a total of 15 private homes.  The land taken through eminent domain would then be turned over to a private developer through a low-cost, long-term lease.  One of the properties taken was the home of Susette Kelo, the named party in the case.  This was the first piece of property Susette had ever owned in her life.  She was very proud that was she was a homeowner.  However, within one year of acquiring the home, she was told to either sell her land or it would be taken by the government through eminent domain.

'Kelo' Revisited.  New London, population 27,000, a rundown onetime whaling port on the Atlantic coast that never recovered after the whaling industry died at the end of the 19th century, is a desolate-looking city.  [Michael] Cristofaro, a 52-year-old New London-born computer network engineer, and I were in its most desolate neighborhood — actually, ex-neighborhood, for there was not a residential property left standing on the entire tract.

Seized property sits vacant nine years after landmark Kelo eminent domain case.  The controversial Supreme Court ruling that expanded eminent domain to give government the right to take private property to allow economic development may have been all for nothing, according to a report.  Nine years after the high court sided with a Connecticut municipality in Kelo v. City of New London, a ruling Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has likened to the court's disastrous Dred Scott decision, the 90-acre plot once earmarked for office buildings, luxury apartments and a new marina, remains vacant.

Reflecting on Kelo nine years later.  It's been nine years since the Supreme Court, expressing their decision in the writings of John Paul Stevens, decided to fundamentally change the Takings Clause of the constitution in the case of Kelo v. City of New London.  On this auspicious anniversary, a diarist at Redstate decides to take a fresh look at how wonderfully that exercise in freedom worked out for the citizens, and what they received in exchange for their liberties.

The Government's License to Steal.  In the late 1990s, after a public backlash against the use of civil asset forfeiture to take money and property from innocent people, seven states passed laws assigning all proceeds from such forfeitures to public schools or the general fund instead of police departments and prosecutors' offices.  The idea was to reduce the incentive to seize assets from innocent owners and to target people based on the value of their property instead of the seriousness of their crimes.  In Indiana, the state's original constitution called for criminal forfeitures to be earmarked for a school fund, and recent attorneys general have applied that provision to civil forfeiture as well.  But thanks to various evasive maneuvers, very little forfeiture money actually ends up in the fund.

Eminent domain, by any other name ... still stinks.  Imagine you come home from work one day to a notice on your front door that you have 45 days to demolish your house, or the city will do it for you.  Oh, and you're paying for it.  This is happening right now in Montgomery, Ala., and here is how it works:  The city decides it doesn't like your property for one reason or another, so it declares it a "public nuisance."

How Liberals Want to Control Your Life.  [Scroll down]  One of the more frightening aspects of the new administration's liberal impulses is the ability to take one's personal property.  [Terence P.] Jeffrey recalls the case of neighbors in Fort Trumbull, Conn., who had their homes condemned because they didn't bring in enough tax revenue.  That move was a vivid contrast to what the Founders envisioned.  "They believed redistributing property was beyond the legitimate scope of any government," Jeffrey writes.

Confiscating your property:  Zaher El-Ali has repaired and sold cars in Houston for 30 years.  One day, he sold a truck to a man on credit.  Ali was holding the title to the car until he was paid, but before he got his money the buyer was arrested for drunken driving.  The cops then seized Ali's truck and kept it, planning to sell it.  Ali can't believe it.  "I own that truck.  That truck done nothing."

Good Riddance!  Justice Stevens voted to sustain racial quotas, created "rights" out of thin air for terrorists, and took away American citizens' rights to their own homes in the infamous "Kelo" decision of 2005. ... Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the Supreme Court opinion that expanded the Constitution's authorization of seizing private property for "public use" to seizing private property for a "public purpose."

Justice Stevens was no champion of the little guy.  President Obama said his nominee to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court would "be someone who, like Justice Stevens, knows that in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens."  Tell that to the "ordinary citizens" of New London, Conn., whose homes were stolen by the government for use by real estate developers at the request of the largest drug company in America — with the approval of Justice Stevens.

Hotel Conference Center May Trump Private Property in Eminent Domain Case.  In Auburn, New York, the city is threatening to invoke eminent domain to seize private property for a private hotel conference center, saying the public good outweighs the private property rights of some citizens.

Big Blighters.  After Kelo v. City of New London, the 2005 decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court approved the forcible transfer of property from one private owner to another in the name of "economic development," 43 states passed reforms that were supposed to curb eminent domain abuses.  But most states still allow condemnation of property deemed to be "blighted," and many of them define that condition so broadly that it has become a synonym for coveted, as illustrated by two recent New York cases.

Court Rules Private Land Can Be Seized for NBA Arena.  New York's highest court ruled Tuesday [11/24/2009] that it's lawful for a state economic development agency to seize private land to build an arena for a professional basketball team.  The 6-1 ruling by the New York State Court of Appeals allows the contentious $4.9 billion, 22-acre Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, N.Y., to proceed.  The proposed development includes office towers, apartments and a new arena for the NBA's New Jersey Nets.

Property Owners Get Dunked On.  New York judges served up what basketball fans call a facial on Tuesday [11/24/2009], when an appellate court ruled that the state may seize homes and small businesses in Brooklyn for the benefit of a private developer and the New Jersey Nets.  The decision represents a backward step for the effort to protect property rights at the state level since the Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Kelo v. New London.

More about taxpayer-funded stadiums and arenas.

Federal prosecutors scoop up millions for victims as greedy bad guys go to jail.  The Manhattan U.S. attorney's office collected more than $450 million from criminal forfeitures between Oct. 1, 2008, and Sept. 30, 2009.  When civil proceeds are added, the total jumps to $570 million — more than 11 times the office's annual budget.  What doesn't get turned over to victims goes to Justice Department coffers.

Legalized larceny posing as forfeiture.  The Supreme Court seems to think that anything is permissible in the name of fighting crime.  On June 24, 1996, United States vs. Ursery, the court ruled that civil punishments in addition to criminal punishments do not constitute double jeopardy.  Asset forfeitures came to prominence in the war against drugs.  They have not dented drug use but they have made thieves out of law enforcement officers.

Hold On to Your Assets.  This fall, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Alvarez v. Smith, a challenge to the state of Illinois' Drug Asset Forfeiture Procedure Act (DAFPA).  The six petitioners in Alvarez each had property seized by police who suspected the property had been involved in a drug crime.  Three had their cars seized, three had cash taken.  None of the six were served with a warrant, none of the six were charged with the crime.  All perfectly legal, at least until now.

The Forfeiture Racket:  Over the past three decades, it has become routine in the United States for state, local, and federal governments to seize the property of people who were never even charged with, much less convicted of, a crime.  Nearly every year, according to Justice Department statistics, the federal government sets new records for asset forfeiture.

Municipal land-grabbing powers should be curtailed.  The Frontier Centre for Public Policy today released a study from policy analyst Joseph Quesnel which looks at the practice of municipal expropriation for economic development.  In his study, Quesnel argues that this practice must be curbed as it prone to serious abuse.

U.S. gives Flight 93 site landowners one week to sell.  The federal government issued an ultimatum yesterday [6/5/2009] to people who own land designated for the Flight 93 memorial in Western Pennsylvania:  They have one week to reach an agreement on the sale of their land or the government will initiate proceedings to seize it.

Racing Past the Constitution:  In 2006, supposedly to "address the negative impact that riverboat gaming has had" on Illinois horse racing, the Legislature — racing interests made huge contributions to Gov. Rod Blagojevich — mandated a transfer of 3 percent of the gross receipts of the four most profitable casinos, those in the Chicago area, to the state's horse-racing tracks.  This levy, subsequently extended to run until 2011, will confiscate substantially more than $100 million.  What is to prevent legislators from taking revenues from Wal-Mart and giving them to local retailers?  Or from chain drugstores to local pharmacies?  Not the tattered remnant of the Constitution's takings clause.

Mayor Daley Seizes Land for Unfunded Project.  Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has kicked hundreds of families out of their homes and relocated a cemetery full of buried bodies to build a whopping $15 billion airport expansion Chicago residents oppose, airlines don't want and he doesn't have the money to build.  The kicker is that Daley stands a solid chance of getting a good chunk of the boondoggle funded in Washington's forthcoming stimulus bill under Barack Obama's pledge to dramatically increase infrastructure spending.

Eminent Domain and the Eighth Commandment:  Our parents taught us from childhood that it is wrong to take from others what doesn't belong to us.  Yet, when we grow up we learn we can get away with it as long as we have the right excuses and rationalizations.  The first step in rationalizing this kind of action is to give it an innocuous label.  It is best to use the Latin expression eminent domain, instead of by the vulgar term "stealing."

Tiny bit of land triggers big fight over city powers.  When finished, the .09-acre patch of land near the Galleria will be the city's smallest park.  Too small even for a basketball court, Post Oak Lane Park might be big enough for a game of horseshoes, a few benches and greenery.  Using its power of eminent domain, the city of Houston seized the land for the park from brothers James and Jock Collins last year.

Dems Target Private Retirement Accounts.  Democrats in the U.S. House have been conducting hearings on proposals to confiscate workers' personal retirement accounts — including 401(k)s and IRAs — and convert them to accounts managed by the Social Security Administration.  Triggered by the financial crisis the past two months, the hearings reportedly were meant to stem losses incurred by many workers and retirees whose 401(k) and IRA balances have been shrinking rapidly.

Irish Government Raids Private Pensions To Pay For Spending.  The Irish government plans to institute a tax on private pensions to drive jobs growth, according to its jobs program strategy, delivered today.  Without the ability sell debt due to soaring interest rates, and with severe spending rules in place due to its EU-IMF bailout, Ireland has few ways of spending to stimulate the economy.  Today's jobs program includes specific tax increases, including the tax on pensions, aimed at keeping government jobs spending from adding to the national debt.

Private Pensions For Public Spending.  Ireland says it will seize parts of its citizens' private pensions so politicians can spend more — a truly awful idea that may be coming to a government near you.  Ireland?  Surely, it can't happen here, you say.  But it can.  Indeed, governments at both the state and federal level have moved more than once to seize all or part of the money you've saved for retirement.

Is Your IRA Going To Be Raided?  The notion of government raiding personal retirement accounts for funds may seem extreme.  Perhaps it shouldn't.  Other governments have done it.  Argentina did in 2008.  Ireland has indicated it might.  The worsening financial crisis may eventually move other countries in that direction.  Surely the US would never do so.  Actually, there is little basis for assuming they would not and factual evidence they would.  Here are three good reasons to believe they would...

Move Over New London.  The Texas Legislature did pass a law in 2005 that banned the use of eminent domain for "economic development" takings.  But the law contained an exception for takings designed to eliminate "slum or blighted areas."  The city has done its homework and determined — to no one's surprise — that the entire area is blighted.  Yet the city's own study clearly shows there is vibrant economic activity taking place within this "blighted" area.

Is There A War Brewing on the War on Drugs?  House Resolution 1658, due to be voted on this week, would require the government to meet more stringent reporting requirements concerning assets seized in drug busts. Presently, assets may be seized by the police without a defendant being convicted, upon suspicion of such property being used to manufacture or distribute illegal narcotics.  Between 1985 and 1995, the Departments of Justice and Treasury seized nearly $4 billion in assets from US citizens, according to government reports.

Raid targets Mongols motorcycle gang.  In an unusual maneuver, the feds are also seeking to seize control of the Mongols' trademarked name, which is typically accompanied by its cherished insignia — a ponytailed Genghis Khan-like figure riding a chopper.  U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien said if his plan is successful, the government would take over ownership of the trademark, and anyone caught wearing a Mongols patch could have it seized by law enforcement on the spot.

That's Not Blight — It's New Jersey.  The usual M.O. for city fathers eyeing some juicy piece of property is to declare the homes of people living there "blighted."  That's just what happened to Lori [Ann Vendetti] and her neighbors.  She says that when Long Branch first started to talk about a redevelopment plan in the mid-1990s, no one even suspected their homes were being targeted for teardown.  Then they found that their neighborhood was officially declared blighted.

Fear of eminent domain grips PG neighborhood.  Residents of a working-class neighborhood near the New Carrollton Metro station say Prince George's County is trying to bring the area into a sweeping redevelopment project that could replace their homes with high-end condos, shopping and restaurants.

This Is Not Your Land Anymore.  The legal phrase "eminent domain" has become all too familiar to nonlawyers in recent years as the U.S. Supreme Court has gradually expanded the power of municipalities to condemn private property and seize it for "public" use — even if they just end up handing property over to another private party.

Farmers upset over Perry veto of eminent domain bill.  One Central Texas farmer said Monday he was "dumbfounded" by Gov. Rick Perry's veto of an eminent domain bill designed to protect landowners when the state wants to take their property.  Robert Fleming is not alone in an area worried about the massive Trans Texas Corridor proposal.  The planned route cuts through Fleming's Bell County farms.

More information about the Trans Texas Corridor.

Eminent Domain Threatens Property of Poor and Minorities.  It has been two years since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark property rights decision in Kelo v. City of New London.  It remains one of the most controversial and unpopular decisions in the history of the Court because it basically stripped away the Fifth Amendment's protection of private property from government abuse of its power of eminent domain.

Conservatives on the march for private property.  It is remarkable how the 2005 Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Kelo v. City of New London, Conn., has riled normally apathetic Americans and motivated them into asserting people power over the twin powers of government and money.  Thirty state legislatures have passed laws or constitutional amendments to limit the effect of the Kelo ruling and provide protection against abusive seizures of private property for other private purposes.

Socialism for the rich:  The rich have learned to adapt socialist policies to their own benefit.  For example, the city of Riviera Beach, Florida, is planning to demolish a working class neighborhood under its power of eminent domain, in order to prepare the way for a marina for yachts, luxury condominiums and an upscale shopping district.

A Man's Home is Uncle Sam's Castle.  Possession may be nine-tenths of the law, but not when the law wants your possessions. … This is why principle matters, folks.  Not too many complained when the EEOC sued business after business for alleged discrimination, or when the nanny state foisted mandate after mandate upon them.  But one thing leads to another.  Compromise the principle of private property rights and you've created a slippery slope, one of whose steeper drop-offs is called eminent domain, and at whose terminus can be found the netherworld of tyranny.

Eminent Domain Victim of the Month:  Imagine you sign a two-year lease with your landlord.  After the first year, you decide you're tired of paying rent and would like to buy the property instead.  You make him an offer, which he rejects as too low.  In response, you go to the board of aldermen and ask them to declare the apartment blighted, condemn it, and turn it over to you for redevelopment.  It might sound absurd, but something very similar is happening right now in Saint Louis.

New South Dakota Measure Favors Railroads Over Private Property Rights.  Railroads operating in South Dakota will have an easier time seizing private property under state Senate Bill 174, which became law July 1.  Proponents say the law will improve the state's bulk commodity transportation system, but opponents say it threatens property rights.

How Californians are being escheated.  Escheat is a feudal concept that arose from the despotism of the Dark Ages.  It stemmed from the principle that property rights depend upon the sufferance of the sovereign, and when a person dies or disappears without heirs, his property reverts to the feudal lord.  California revived this medieval doctrine in 1959 and began seizing personal assets on the smarmy pretext that after a few years of account or safe-deposit box inactivity, property is obviously "lost," and the state needs to "protect" it by selling it off and depositing the proceeds into the general fund.  Today in California, no one's property is safe.

Landowner Asks Supreme Court to Hear Eminent Domain 'Extortion' Case.  Claiming he is the victim of legalized extortion carried out under eminent domain powers, a landowner in New York is asking the Supreme Court to hear his case.  Landowner Bart Didden claims in a petition that a developer convinced the village of Port Chester, N.Y., to seize his land through eminent domain after Didden had refused to pay the developer $800,000.

Susette Kelo Lost Her Rights, But She Will Keep Her Home.  Susette Kelo's little pink cottage — the home that was the subject of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case and a national symbol of the fight against eminent domain abuse — will be spared from the wrecking ball.

The Last Two Kelo Holdouts Fold.  Susette Kelo and Pasquale Cristofaro, plaintiffs in the infamously historic U.S. Supreme Court decision of last year have reached an agreement with the Stalinists in New London, Connecticut who chose to sieze their property to give it to another private party that will generate more tax revenue for them.

Property Rights on State Ballots.  The [Supreme] Court's narrow majority gave a green light for politicians to take property through eminent domain for pretty much whatever reason they liked. … If anything positive came from this atrocious, activist decision, it was to spark a national backlash in favor of property rights.

Kelo's Backlash:  Imminent Success?  The Kelo backlash isn't just alive — it's thriving and producing results that can only be described as historic. … As of July 3rd, the number of states that have passed reforms has grown to 25 — out of 45 states that had legislative sessions this year.  And, it is possible that, in the next month, that number could grow to as high as 29. … In all the states that have passed reforms, the situation has improved — often dramatically.

Executive Order:  Protecting the Property Rights of the American People.  It is the policy of the United States to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the Federal Government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.

The pirates of eminent domain:  If state and local governments can force a property owner to surrender his land so it can be given to a new owner who will put it to more lucrative use, no home or shop in America will ever be safe again.

New American Tea Party:  Kelo backlash could lead to restoration of property rights lost to smart growth and eminent domain abuses.

The Right to Private Property is a Civil Right.  Property owners are reeling from recent decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court relegated the right to own property to second-class status.  However, the Court's actions are inconsistent with our Constitution and denigrate the role private ownership of property plays in our system of government.

The Tyranny of Eminent Domain:  You do not own your property.  That is the meaning of the Supreme Court's June 23 [2006] ruling in Kelo v. City of New London, which held that local governments may use the power of eminent domain to transfer private property from one private owner to another in pursuit of "the public interest."

A year after Kelo.  While eminent domain makes sense when it is used to clear the way for such things as railroads or utilities, it's hard to see how the "public use" requirement embodied in the Fifth Amendment is satisfied when, as former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor noted in her dissent, the government is simply replacing a Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton.

Kelo Outrage Fuels a Surging Property Rights Movement.  The Kelo decision was actually one of the best things that ever happened to the national property rights movement, as it clearly imprinted the precarious nature of private property rights in the public consciousness and has inspired significant reforms nationwide.

Facing Down The Bulldozers.  It is true, notes Steven Eagle, a law professor at George Mason University, that the Fifth Amendment gives little guidance on how to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate uses of eminent domain.  But that's because whatever other abuses King George had perpetrated, he did not go around throwing people out of their homes to build mansions for the wealthy.  Deployment of eminent domain powers for economic redevelopment projects — as New London is doing — was simply not something that the founders anticipated.

Master of Your Domain:  The Impact of the Kelo Decision.  Several states — including Alabama, Delaware, Ohio, and Texas — have succeeded in passing eminent domain reforms, but most of these do not have any real teeth.  According to Timothy Sandefur of the Pacific Legal Foundation, laws like those in Alabama and Texas leave open the door to eminent domain abuse by still allowing governments to take land they deem "blighted."

Eminent Domain, Private Property, and Redevelopment:  Eminent domain is the power governments have to confiscate, or take, private property as long as it is for a legitimate "public use" and property owners receive "just compensation."  Whereas eminent domain was initially intended to ensure that public services, such as roads and highways, were available to the public, local and state governments often use eminent domain for any project that is considered economically beneficial.  Public use, as a practical matter, has morphed into a more ambiguous "public benefit."  An estimated 10,000 cases between 1998 and 2002 involved projects where private parties benefit substantially from government seizures of property under the banner of economic development or urban redevelopment.  [PDF]

Court rules local governments can seize homes.  In a blow to U.S. farmers, a divided Supreme Court ruled today [6/23/2005] that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses for private economic development projects.  The court ruled 5-4 that boosting economic growth outweighed a homeowner's property rights.  The case involved a homeowner who refused to sell her property to the city of New London, Conn.  The city wanted the property so a private developer could build a hotel, shopping and housing complex.

Property Rights Protection Get Bogged Down.  Despite the widespread concern that swept the country following the Kelo decision, state and federal elected officials have done little to strengthen the protection of property rights.  With the exceptions of the House bill and new laws in Alabama and Texas, property rights initiatives in other states and in the U.S. Senate have been bogged down in legislative committees, in large part due to opposition from mayors, developers, and economic development officials who stand to see their power diminished.

Supreme Court Rules Government can seize your home.  The American Conservative Union sharply condemned [the recent] highly controversial 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that local governments may use eminent domain to take people's homes and businesses and turn them over to private developers. … "It is outrageous to think that the government can take away your home any time it wants to build a shopping mall," said ACU Chairman David Keene.

Supreme Court Rules Cities May Seize Homes for Private Use.  The Supreme Court today [6/23/2005] effectively expanded the right of local governments to seize private property under eminent domain, ruling that people's homes and businesses — even those not considered blighted — can be taken against their will for private development if the seizure serves a broadly defined "public use."

Kelo in mass quantities:
Florida City Plans to Drive 6,000 Citizens from Their Homes.  "It can't happen here" was the prevailing initial response of Florida's public officials after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2005 in Kelo v. City of New London.  The state's attorney general even issued a statement evidently intended to calm Floridians' fears that their local governments suddenly had carte blanche authority to seize private property.

States may raze Court's domain ruling.  Policy makers from Texas to New Jersey have similar responses to [the recent] Supreme Court ruling that makes it easier for the government to seize private property through eminent domain:  no thanks.  The decision was seen initially as a loss for private property owners, but it may lead to a backlash.  A groundswell of support for homeowners and property rights has galvanized state legislatures to rein in eminent domain authority.

Confiscating property:  The Court's decision helps explain the vicious attacks on any judicial nominees who might use framer-intent to interpret the U.S. Constitution.  America's socialists want more control over our lives, property and our pocketbooks.  They cannot always get their way in the legislature, and the courts represent their only chance.

This land is your land.  No.  Your land is their land.  There was one problem with John Revelli's property:  It was on such a prime location, the government virtually stole it.

They Can't Take That Away From Me… Unless They Can.  Put simply, cities cannot take someone's house just because they think they can make better use of it.  Otherwise, argues Scott Bullock, Mrs Kelo's lawyer, you end up destroying private property rights altogether.  For if the sole yardstick is economic benefit, any house can be replaced at any time by a business or shop (because they usually produce more tax revenues).  Moreover, if city governments can seize private property by claiming a public benefit which they themselves determine, where do they stop?

City to seize church by eminent domain.  The city of Long Beach, Calif., is using the power of eminent domain bolstered by last summer's U.S. Supreme Court ruling to condemn a Baptist congregation's church building.

Another government taking:  Conaway Ranch is a 17,300-acre spread north of Davis, Calif. … Yolo County wants the land.  In 2004, county supervisors voted to seize the ranch by eminent domain.  "We want to keep it from being developed," explained Supervisor Mike McGowan.

New chance to curtail eminent domain abuse.  Carl and Joy Gamble, retirees who lived in the same house in Norwood, a Cincinnati suburb, for more than three decades, did not realize their neighborhood was "deteriorating."  Neither did the Norwood City Council, until it heard about developer Jeffrey Anderson's plan to build offices, condominiums, chain stores and a parking garage there.

Kelo's Implications are Horrendous.  Kelo does not mean the end of private property per se, but it does mean the end of anyone's secure possession, be the owner an individual or a corporation.  To the extent that Americans still possess constitutional rights, Kelo could mean their end as well.

Black Activists Call for Eminent Domain Restrictions in Virginia.  The push to restrict the use of eminent domain for private development in Virginia is getting an extra shove from black activists worried the homes and businesses of minorities could be the main targets of real estate developers and local governments hungry for more tax revenue.

Your Home is Your Cottage.  Property rights are in trouble just about everywhere.  The latest trend hits an economic right Americans have traditionally taken for granted:  the right to build or buy the biggest home you can afford.

A New (London) Low.  The U.S. Supreme Court recently found that the city's original seizure of private property was constitutional under the principal of eminent domain, and now New London is claiming that the affected homeowners were living on city land for the duration of the lawsuit and owe back rent.  It's a new definition of chutzpah: Confiscate land and charge back rent for the years the owners fought confiscation.

Hands off our homes.  A grass-roots movement has arisen to keep other people's hands off private homes.  Libertarian groups such as the Institute for Justice, which were campaigning against eminent-domain abuse before Kelo, report an upsurge in support, both moral and monetary.

The left is eyeing your home.  When the Supreme Court decided seven weeks ago in Kelo vs. New London to loosen constitutional restraints on local governments taking your house and selling it to Wal-Mart, it triggered a wave of public revulsion from New England to South Los Angeles. … Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) cosponsored a successful amendment to stop federal Community Development Block Grants from going to any locale that doesn't prohibit eminent domain seizures for private development. … House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) opposed Waters' amendment, arguing that the Supreme Court decision "is almost as if God has spoken."

 Editorial Comment:   Actually there's more truth than poetry in that statement, because if the government is Congresswoman Pelosi's god, then her god has spoken.

It takes a village … of property owners.  Governments historically use eminent domain to acquire private property for "public use," defined as a road, bridge or a school.  Here, the city bluntly acknowledges its goal — a higher tax base.

Private Property in Peril.  Property owners beware.  If an owner does not make maximum productive use of his property, government is now empowered to transfer the property to another person.

School district sells 24.7 acres to Home Depot for $30 million.  Three years after using eminent domain to take possession of a 24.7-acre parcel in Kearny Mesa, the San Diego Unified School District is selling the vacant land to Home Depot for $11.2 million more than it paid.  The school board was scheduled today [11/09/2004] to authorize the district to begin escrow on the $30 million sale.  District officials said the site is unsuitable for a school and there is no other school district use for it.

Arkansas wrongly seized, sold man's home, justices rule.  The Supreme Court declared Wednesday [4/26/2006] that a state must take steps to ensure that a property owner is sufficiently notified of a tax delinquency before it seizes and sells a home.  The decision revealed an irritation among the majority for how Arkansas officials used the "extraordinary power" to seize a home.

Land Seized for Animal Shelter May Be Sold to Developer-Donor.  A year after Los Angeles seized three acres from a private company to construct a public building, a city councilman wants to sell the land to another private firm for a commercial development.

PBS Analysts Ridicule Eminent Domain Concerns of Conservatives.  During PBS's coverage Wednesday [9/14/2005] of the Senate hearing with Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, analysts ridiculed the concern of some conservative Senators over the Supreme Court's recent eminent domain ruling and mocked the role of naive talk radio hosts.

Private Property at the Mercy of Government.  When, if ever, does government have the power to take the property of A and turn it over to B?  According to a June 23 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court (Kelo vs City of New London), government can do that whenever it thinks that B will pay more in taxes.

New book
Opening the Floodgates:  Eminent Domain Abuse In the Post-Kelo World.

Supreme Court OKs Expansion of Takings Power.  The U.S. Supreme Court gave a major victory to urban planners, large property owners, and government in the Kelo v. New London decision announced June 23.  The major losers are those who treasure private property rights and the respect for those rights set forth in the U.S. Constitution and those with the least political power to protect themselves.

Take That, David.  An application has been made to condemn the family home of Supreme Court Justice David Souter, to make way for hotel development.

Kelo Ruling Puts American Dream at Risk:  Justice David Souter is probably breathing a sigh of relief.  Last month, New Hampshire voters rebuffed attempts to seize the Supreme Court justice's home and transform it into a private inn.  This effort was an orchestrated protest of the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Kelo v. New London, in which Souter joined the majority.  While theatrical, the proposed seizure of Souter's home is not surprising:  There are few recent Supreme Court cases that elicit as visceral a reaction as Kelo.  As well it should.

Missouri Bank Refuses to Finance Eminent Domain Development Projects.  A Missouri-based bank has announced it "will not lend money for projects in which local governments use eminent domain to take private property for use by private developers," making it the second lending institution in the nation to do so.

Supreme Court Ruling Opens the Door to Abuse.  Economic theory tells us that secure private property rights are one of the essential foundations of a free society and an important engine of growth.  By raising the odds that eminent domain powers will be exercised expansively, the Kelo decision has seriously undermined those rights.

Sentence First, Verdict Later.  In Kelo v. New London the Court moved us further away from the "red state" view of property rights by giving virtually carte blanche to local governments to seize, and demolish any person's home. … The Court declared that the involuntary transfer of property from you to any corporation, shopping mall or other business interest can be a lawful exercise of government power.

Reaction to the Supreme Court Decision in Kelo Eminent Domain Case.  The U.S. Supreme Court has given a major victory to urban planners, large property owners, and government in the Kelo decision announced June 23.  The major losers are those who treasure private property rights and the respect for those rights set forth in the U.S. Constitution and those with the least political power to protect themselves.

Human rights v. property rights:  Property rights are human rights to use economic goods and services.  Private property rights contain your right to use, transfer, trade and exclude others from use of property deemed yours.  The supposition that there's a conflict or difference between human rights to use property and civil rights is bogus and misguided.

With just a few additional ingredients, the Kelo decision could result in a Zimbabwe situation.

Lessons from the Kelo Decision:  One week after the Kelo decision by the Supreme Court, Americans are still reeling from the shock of having our nation's highest tribunal endorse using government power to condemn private homes to benefit a property developer.  Even as we celebrate our independence from England this July 4th, we find ourselves increasingly enslaved by petty bureaucrats at every level of government.  The anger engendered by the Kelo case certainly resonates on this holiday based on rebellion against government.

Florida Eminent Domain Plan Could Be the Largest.  The project, potentially one of the country's largest eminent domain seizures, has placed Riviera Beach at the center of a nationwide battle over whether government should be allowed to seize property for private development.

Why we need conservative judges:  Citizens don't need their lives defined by others.  They need protection.  And the vulnerable particularly need protection.  Protection means having a legal code that has integrity and having judges that see their job as relating to that law to protect people from the unjust encroachment by others.  I would say a society of tyranny is one in which it is never clear what the law is and how I am protected.  Ironically, this also characterizes a liberal society.  This couldn't have been driven home more clearly than by the Supreme Court's recent eminent-domain decision in the Kelso v. City of New London case.

Never Mind the Kelo, Here's Scott Bullock.  It was rather shocking that a majority of the Supreme Court would permit this type of abuse.  We're in an America where, as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor points out, church property can be taken for a Costco, a farm can be turned into a factory, and a neighborhood can be leveled for a shopping mall.  Most people cannot believe that this can happen in this country and the Supreme Court gave sanction to that with their decision.

The Supreme Court's reverse Robin Hoods:  No one disputes that this power of "eminent domain" makes sense in limited circumstances; the Constitution's Fifth Amendment explicitly provides for it.  But the plain reading of that Amendment's "takings clause" also appears to require that eminent domain be invoked only when land is required for genuine "public use" such as roads.  It further requires that the government pay owners "just compensation" in such cases.  The founding fathers added this clause to the Fifth Amendment … because they understood that there could be no meaningful liberty in a country where the fruits of one's labor are subject to arbitrary government seizure.

When Justices become dictators:  This week, the Supreme Court of the United States once again proved that it is a feckless, dictatorial and altogether ridiculous body.  Its latest spate of decisions reveals legislative usurpation, disingenuous deference and silly inconsistency.  But, of course, what else should we expect from the court that tells us our Constitution protects pornography but not political advertising, sodomy but not the Ten Commandments, and mentally disabled murderers but not private property?

Theft by government:  As the nation was waiting to see where the Supreme Court would tolerate displaying the Ten Commandments, the court violated one.

Your house could be a parking lot.  Think your house is your castle?  Our country's Founders thought so.  They put three provisions into the Bill of Rights to protect it.  But last week, the Supreme Court said the government can take away your house just because it thinks someone else could make better use of your home or business than you can.

Your castle no more.  The U.S. Supreme Court is allowing a local government to kick out of the house in which she was born 87-year-old Wilhelmina Dery and her husband who has lived there with her for 60 years.  Why?  The government wants to seize their property, bulldoze their house and many others and sell the land to businesses and developers for private uses.

High Court to homeowners:  Stick 'em up!  It's like a bad dream, or a summer disaster movie.  But this is real.  We live under a regime that can and often does grab our homes and small businesses to create what politicians call "economic development."  The process is simple:  the government takes our property, pays us what it thinks the property's worth, and then hands our property — in finely crafted "sweetheart deals" — to developers and big corporations that will produce greater tax revenue.

Eminent injustice in New London.  Would your town's tax base grow if your home were bulldozed and replaced with a parking garage?  If so, it may not be your home for long.

Damaging 'Deference':  The question answered Thursday was:  Can government profit by seizing the property of people of modest means and giving it to wealthy people who can pay more taxes than can be extracted from the original owners?  The court answered yes.

Supreme Court Ruling on Seizure of Private Property Highly Disturbing.  Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the dissenting opinion for the court, arguing against the unconstrained authority of government to displace families and small businesses in order to accommodate developers.  "The specter of condemnation hangs over all property," stated the Justice in her opinion.

Eminent domain ruling 'disastrous'.  A ruling handed down today by the Supreme Court paves the way for local governments to seize private property and hand it over to developers and other private businesses. … While eminent domain may be necessary to build public projects such as roads and bridges, this decision will allow private homes to be taken to build shopping malls, hotels and theaters.

Supreme Court:  Public Use is Whatever Governments Say.  "This is a dark day for property owners throughout the country and particularly for citizens living anywhere near covetous local governments," said William Perry Pendley of Mountain States Legal Foundation.

Hail seizers!  The New York Times cheers on the land grabbers.  According to the Court, the Fifth Amendment, which allows the government to take property "for public use" provided it pays "just compensation," is a license to transfer any parcel of land from its current owner to someone the government thinks will make better use of it.

This Land is My Land:  Reforming Eminent Domain after Kelo v.City of New London.  On June 23, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the city of New London's use of eminent domain to condemn several properties the city claimed stood in the way of additional tax revenues and new jobs.  However, Justice Stevens, author of the majority opinion in Kelo, explained that nothing precludes states from restricting their takings power.  Doing so is a first step toward assuring homeowners that they can keep what they own.

EFF raises the Gadsden flag in protest of Supreme Court property rights decision.  The Gadsden flag was the fighting standard chosen by American patriots during the Revolutionary War.  The English government was infringing upon the fundamental rights of life, liberty and property, and, as a result, the American colonists revolted.  The Gadsden flag, with the famous words "Don't tread on me," best portrayed their sentiment.

Property Damage:  With yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. New London, the nation's highest court has essentially given federal, state and local governments an unlimited ability to take a private citizen's property as long as proper payment is made.  The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits private property from being taken through eminent domain without "just compensation," but it further stipulates that the property must be taken for a "public use."  In Kelo, the Supreme Court watered down the public use requirement so as to make it almost meaningless.

Kelo, GM, and the Stimulus:  Three Examples of Government-Induced Failure.  On November 9, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced that it would abandon its eight-year-old research and development facility in New London, Connecticut.  That decision effectively ended the chances of any additional development taking place in the city's Fort Trumbull area, the subject of June 2005's infamous Kelo v. New London Supreme Court decision.  Citing what Justice John Paul Stevens called a "carefully formulated ... development plan," the Court's decision allowed the city to condemn and bulldoze dozens of houses.  Today, the area, except for the politically connected Italian Dramatic Club, is a vacant wasteland.

House takes aim at Supreme Court's controversial ruling on property rights.  The House this week is expected to approve legislation that would overturn a 2005 Supreme Court decision holding that state and local governments can take private property under the principle of eminent domain in order to further their economic development plans.  The 2005 decision, Kelo v. City of New London, was seen by Republicans in particular as a case of government overreach.  The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution limits the authority of government to seize property, by requiring compensation and mandating that the land taken be put to public use.

House votes to overturn Supreme Court decision on eminent domain.  The House on Tuesday afternoon [2/28/2012] approved legislation that overturns a 2005 Supreme Court decision that affirmed the ability of states to take control of private property under the doctrine of eminent domain and hand it to another private developer.

Taking back property rights.  Congress is taking steps to reverse a Supreme Court decision that turned a thriving middle-class community into a waterfront wasteland.  It's about time Kelo was knocked off-kilter.

Justices Back Forced Sale of Property.  The Supreme Court gave cities broad power Thursday [6/23/2005] to bulldoze homes and small stores to make way for business development, a ruling the dissenters said put shopkeepers and homeowners at the mercy of revenue-hungry governments.  The 5-4 ruling against a small group of residents in New London, Conn., goes further than ever before in allowing government to invoke its power of "eminent domain" to seize private property from unwilling sellers.

Supreme Court Rules Cities May Seize Homes.  Cities may bulldoze people's homes to make way for shopping malls or other private development, a divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday, giving local governments broad power to seize private property to generate tax revenue.  In a scathing dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said the decision bowed to the rich and powerful at the expense of middle-class Americans.

New Jersey to Expand Seizures in Gun Cases.  A New Jersey state assemblyman has introduced a bill that would allow the government to seize the home or car of anyone whose property contains an illegal firearm.  In New Jersey, nearly every gun is considered "illegal."

The abusers of eminent domain.  What the Supreme Court in the 18th century found unthinkable, the Supreme Court of the 20th century made lawful.  In Berman v. Parker, a 1954 case, a unanimous court permitted eminent domain to be deployed for purposes of what was then called "urban renewal."  Berman's narrow exception soon became an open floodgate of eminent-domain abuse.

Supreme Court taking on sticky issue of eminent domain.  The American Dream is to start a small business and develop it through years of hard work and investment.  Location is the key to most businesses, and entrepreneurs typically build their reputation at a particular spot.  But lately, many have been greeted by a surprise message from city hall:  Their town is taking their property for the benefit of someone else.  A lifetime of effort is suddenly snuffed by the arbitrary decision of a few councilmen or unelected city planners.

Confiscating homes.  What would you call it if someone forced you to sell your home, even though you didn't want to sell and didn't agree to the price?  You would call it theft and phone 911.  But the realm of government is cloaked in terminology designed to hide unpleasant realities.  When the government does this, it's called "eminent domain," and it's legal.

The Asset Forfeiture Manual:  Judges, lawyers, and other government officials enjoy various levels of personal immunity provided by both law and "professional courtesy."  How do you sue a lawyer for malpractice?  You hire another lawyer - if you can find one who'll take the case.  How do you sue an IRS agent for violating your Constitutional rights?  Only with great difficulty.  How you sue a judge for railroading you in court?  You don't.

Ashcroft Orders Destruction of DOJ Documents.  The Department of Justice requested the Government Printing Office to order depository libraries to remove and destroy five publications regarding asset forfeiture no longer to be available to the general public.

Socialism is evil.  What is socialism?  We miss the boat if we say it's the agenda of left-wingers and Democrats.  According to Marxist doctrine, socialism is a stage of society between capitalism and communism where private ownership and control over property are eliminated.  The essence of socialism is the attenuation and ultimate abolition of private property rights.  Attacks on private property include, but are not limited to, confiscating the rightful property of one person and giving it to another to whom it doesn't belong.

Bandits with Badges:  Society has no problem with law enforcement fighting crime or even confiscating property used in a criminal enterprise but, as with any law, the good intent for which the law was created, has been immensely abused to the point that innocent citizens are losing everything they ever worked for without even being charged or convicted of a crime.  Clearly, states need to pass laws to safeguard the rights of the innocent from zealot law enforcement agencies run amuck from the smell of greed.

The War on Crime:  Today, more than 200 different kinds of forfeiture laws exist in America, and items are often seized on mere suspicion.  Some 80% of people who have their property seized are never formally charged with a crime.  Attempts to recover seized property is a legal nightmare for private citizens.

Government seizures begin to spur backlash.  While the U.S. Constitution allows governments to use eminent domain, that power generally had been restricted to acquiring land to build roads, schools and other infrastructure government needed to carry out its role of providing for the public welfare.  But scholars say that began to change in the 1950s when local governments began using eminent domain as a means to clean slums.

Highway "forfeiture traps" are apparently still alive and flourishing.  A few years ago these forfeiture traps on interstate highways were getting a lot of media attention.  Television news shows such as 20/20 and 60 Minutes aired exposes on forfeiture traps in Volusia County, Florida, and Sulphur, Louisiana.  Local police in these small towns made millions of dollars in profits by trolling the interstate highways and stopping travelers with out of state tags.  The police typically claimed some traffic infraction, asked permission to search the car and got it, found no drugs but some cash, then brought in a drug sniffing dog, and after getting it to "alert," seized all the travelers' money.

DEA's crazy train:  "Amtrak is providing federal drug police in Albuquerque with ticketing information about passengers," writes Jeff Jones in the April 11 [2001] Albuquerque Journal, "and Amtrak police get 10 percent of any cash seized from suspected drug couriers at the Downtown station."

Government Property Seizures out of Control:  Across America, the Drug Enforcement Administration is seizing the luggage, cash and cars of hapless travelers.  And the government is keeping the property of people who have committed no crime.

Railway Bandits:  Amtrak manages to lose money on 39 of its 41 routes, but that doesn't stop it from making a killing off some of its customers.  In Albuquerque, New Mexico, Amtrak officials cut a deal with the Drug Enforcement Administration:  In exchange for giving the drug police access to its booking system, Amtrak gets 10 percent of any money the cops take from hapless passengers.

Legislator eyes unused gift card value.  Rep. Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee) said today [12/26/2006] that the value of unused gift cards should go to the state treasury — not to the merchant — and that change will be part of a bill he'll introduce in the legislative session starting in January.  Kessler said millions of dollars a year go unused by gift card recipients, and retailers are allowed to book the unused values after the cards expire.

Europe starts confiscating private pension funds.  Obviously, this is a cautionary tale for America.  If fiscal austerity becomes a real issue in the U.S. the way that it's been reaching critical mass in Europe — don't think that U.S. lawmakers regard your either your personal wealth or money they might owe you as sacrosanct.  Government has a habit of looking out for itself.

European nations begin seizing private pensions.  People's retirement savings are a convenient source of revenue for governments that don't want to reduce spending or make privatizations.  As most pension schemes in Europe are organised by the state, European ministers of finance have a facilitated access to the savings accumulated there, and it is only logical that they try to get a hold of this money for their own ends.

Related stories:

To Protect and Collect

Why the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act Will Not Significantly Reform the Practice of Forfeiture

Supreme Court Says Police May "Impound" HouseThe Supreme Court ruled 8-1 Tuesday (02/20/2001) that Illinois police acted constitutionally when they kept a man from entering his trailer home while they spent two hours getting a search warrant.

Plunder Patrol: The alarming saga of IRS abuse:  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is our nation's largest law enforcement agency.  Armed with virtually unlimited power, it collects not only taxes, but intimate details about the personal lives of virtually every American.

Not So Eminent Domain.  On June 23, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court said that New London, Connecticut, could force the sale of Susette Kelo's house.  The question before the court had been whether the city's plan for her neighborhood — private condos, a privately owned hotel, and laboratories for a private-sector corporation, Pfizer Inc. — was a "public use" under the 5th Amendment of the Constitution.  The city said it was, because it would generate taxes and jobs.  Five of the nine members of the court swallowed that argument.  By one vote, Susette Kelo lost.

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