Constitution of the United States
Amendment #14, Section 1.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Operation Choke Point And The New American Legal System. Recently social media was
ablaze with the news that adult entertainer, Teagan Presley, had received word from Chase Bank that
they were closing her account. Presley had just become the latest law-abiding citizen to be swept
up in "Operation Choke Point," an joint effort by the Departments of Justice, Treasury and a handful
of other agencies to effectively shut-down industries that the federal government doesn't like.
Here's the catch — they have no legal authority to shutter them and most of the victims of
this overreach are losing their banking relationships even though they've done nothing wrong.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, Q13FOX.com 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
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
. 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.
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
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.
: 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
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."
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.
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.
. 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.
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
. 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
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
. 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
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
Municipal land-grabbing powers should be
. 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.
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
: 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.
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
: 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
. 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.
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.
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
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
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
. 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.
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.
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
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
. 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.
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.
: 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.
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.
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
. 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.
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.
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
. 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
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
: 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
: You do not own your property. That is the meaning of the Supreme Court's
June 23  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
. 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
. 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
: 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
. 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
. Despite the widespread concern that swept the country following the Kelo
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
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.
: 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
. 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
. 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.
: 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
. 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
Your Home is Your Cottage
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)
. 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
. 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.
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."
there's more truth than poetry in that statement, because if the government is Congresswoman
Pelosi's god, then her god has
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.
. Property owners beware. If an owner does not make maximum
productive use of his property, government is now empowered to transfer the property to
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.
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.
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
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.
: Eminent Domain Abuse In the Post-Kelo World.
Supreme Court OKs Expansion of Takings
. 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.
. 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
: 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.
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.
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
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.
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
: 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
Never Mind the Kelo, Here's
. 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.
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.
: 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?
: As the nation was waiting to see where the Supreme Court would
tolerate displaying the Ten Commandments, the court violated one.
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
. 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
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
. 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.
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.
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'
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
. 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.
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.
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
. 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.
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.
. 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
: 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.
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.
. 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
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
: 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.
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
. 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
: "Amtrak is providing federal drug police in Albuquerque with
ticketing information about passengers," writes Jeff Jones in the April 11 
Albuquerque Journal, "and Amtrak police get 10 percent of any cash seized from
suspected drug couriers at the Downtown station."
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.
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
Legislator eyes unused gift card
. 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
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.
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
Protect and Collect
Why the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act
Will Not Significantly Reform the Practice of Forfeiture
Court Says Police May "Impound" House:
The 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
Patrol: The alarming saga of IRS abuse
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.
Back to Abuse of Power
Back to the Home page