Everything pertaining to the Bundy Ranch and the Nevada Bureau of Land Management is now on its own
page, located here.
Restaurant Owner Charged With 'Trespassing' [on his own property] After Reopening in Defiance of Lockdown Orders. At 11:00 a.m.
on Tuesday, November 24, Adam Skelly opened his BBQ restaurant in Toronto and began serving customers. Under ordinary circumstances,
this would have been unremarkable. But on that day, it was an act of political defiance, because a recent lockdown order prohibited
restaurants like his from providing indoor and outdoor dining services. Skelly, a 33-year-old husband and father of two, was
specifically ordered to close by Toronto Public Health later that day, but he opened again on Wednesday and made it clear that he would
continue operating as normal. Then, early Thursday morning the police changed the locks on the restaurant to bar his access, and
when Skelly showed up later that morning he was met by a significant police presence. Police allowed him into a back part
of the building behind the restaurant, but then he and his employees secretly broke into the restaurant from the back and kicked down
the newly locked front door.
Leftists' Assault on American Small Business. There is a war on small business right now in this country.
The battle lines are tied to the tenets of capitalism and free markets, which value property rights and private ownership of
production, versus socialism and communism, which value "workers" and communal or state property. When we think of
property rights, land and home ownership comes to mind. But it also includes the right to own and operate a business
and be the beneficiary of the risks and rewards. The Marxist goal is to deplete the ranks and efficacy of small
business in America and have the remains subsumed by fewer and larger corporations, as well as government. The next
stage will focus on dividing the leadership and workforce in large corporations. [...] Right now the revolutionaries need the
titans of industry on their side. Non-cooperation is synonymous with blasphemy. Evidence of this was the
apoplectic response of the left's messengers when the CEO of Goya Foods did not sing their tune.
We'll See How the Snowflake Generation Handles the Barbarians. The modern urban mayor is epitomized by
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who has chosen not to crack down on the barbarians torching his city, but encourages them to
keep the flames hot because "The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life." That laughable, sophomoric
statement isn't going to save anyone or any structure. That building is not a "symbol." It has value to the person who
owns it. And that's the problem with Frey and the generation of snowflakes who are moving into positions of power and
responsibility. Quite simply, they don't believe in private property. In fact, they see private property as a
genuine evil. So, of course, it doesn't matter if you burn it. It's not worth protecting. We saw this same
attitude in Baltimore in 2015 when Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake expressed the notion that protesters should be given space
Somewhat related: Taking Property for Fun and
Profit. After a group of homeless moms simply moved into a vacant three-bedroom house in Oakland owned by a
company that invests in local real estate, local progressives turned them into folk heroes. These women weren't
squatters who took something that wasn't theirs, but valiant protesters who were standing up for their communities
against — all together now — corporate speculators. As one of these Oakland moms said,
"Housing is a human right. I pay bills there. I pay water, PG&E, internet. We live there. We want to
purchase the home; it needs to belong back in the hands of the community. It was stolen through the foreclosure
crisis." That certainly puts a new spin on the term "property ownership."
Farmer Fights Government Claim That Dirt Is a Pollutant. No one told Jack LaPant that he could be in violation
of the Clean Water Act for farming his own land. That's mostly because the federal law includes a clear exemption for
"normal" farming activities. But it's also because the government officials LaPant consulted didn't view overturned
dirt that has been tilled and plowed as pollution. In 2016, the Army Corps of Engineers, which administers the Clean
Water Act with the Environmental Protection Agency, began legal action against LaPant for plowing he did in 2011 to plant
wheat on a ranch property he owned in Northern California.
When Bureaucrats Go Bad.
In New Mexico the Forest Service gated off a 23 acre tract of land preventing cattle from using a water hole.
Why? And in Texas soon after, the Bureau of Land management tried to seize rich ranch land along the Red River.
Few of us will forget the seizure of Clive Bundy's land and cattle in Nevada, and the less publicized effort by the EPA to
garnish the taxpayer wages of Americans without a court order. Or, we can review the IRS attacks on conservative groups
like the Tea Party... all under the Obama administration. These un-elected bureaucrats, the faceless horde, the Deep
State, the swamp if you will, the little despots drunk with power and the ability to screw with people's lives, have risen
up. They believe they are the only legitimate government of the United States. Presidents come and go, but they
Court bolsters rights for developers and property owners in California and elsewhere. The Supreme Court's conservative
majority gave a major boost to property rights Friday [6/21/2019], ruling that developers and landowners may go directly to federal
court and seek compensation for a "taking" of their property. The 5-4 decision overturned a 1985 precedent that said property
owners may not sue in federal court if their development plans were blocked until they had sought and been denied compensation from
local officials or a state agency. This process often stretched over many years, effectively blocking a development,
according to its critics.
Chemotherapy for the
Republic. When bureaucrats embedded in massive administrative agencies wield unchecked regulatory power with no
electoral accountability, designating temporary snow melt ponds as national waterways in a bid to control western ranches,
metastasis is on display.
must pay nearly $600G for removing oak tree from their property, judge rules. A judge ordered a Northern California
couple this week to pay nearly $600,000 for uprooting an almost 200-year-old oak tree from their property that was protected under
a conservation easement. Peter and Toni Thompson removed the 180-year-old heritage oak tree to move it to another home
they built adjacent to the property. More than 3,000 cubic yards of dirt was also removed in the process.
Have Now Declared War On Our Lawns. [Scroll down] "On balance, lawns are awful for the planet," Eric
Holthaus wrote last week in Grist, an environmentalist online magazine. "Our addiction to lawns means that grass is the
single largest irrigated agricultural 'crop' in America, more than corn, wheat, and fruit orchards combined," he adds.
"A NASA-led study in 2005 found that there were 63,000 square miles of turf grass in the United States, covering an area
larger than Georgia." Is there no end to the left's screeching sermons, its demands we "do better," the arrogance driven
by a sense of moral superiority that believes it can make decisions for others? While Holthaus admits lawns can be
"pleasing," "help reduce the urban heat island effect," "help restore groundwater and reduce urban flooding," and draw carbon
dioxide from the air, Grist is much more interested in dispatching a tirade.
The Editor says...
[#1] NASA obviously has nothing important to do. [#2] If the total area of all the lawns in the U.S. is greater
than the area of Georgia, that's surprisingly small, but no matter what the total is, the correct reaction is, So what?
What would the environmentalists prefer that we grow on our private property? Apparently the definition of "lawn" is an area of
grass near a residence that is mowed. Sure, I'd like to have a rain forest in my back yard, or a couple of 200-foot redwood trees,
but the lawn (which is mostly just closely-cropped weeds) will have to do.
Court ditches Clean Water Act conviction posthumously. The latest Supreme Court case dealing with alleged
violations of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act involved the conviction, upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, of
the late Joseph Robertson. His crime? Building a firebreak ditch and some ponds on his Montana property.
Robertson, arrested at age 77, was targeted because the government maintains that his protection ponds and narrow ditch
located in the northern Montana woods have become increasingly prone to destructive, life-threatening fires. But the
government's claim is suspect.
farm family fights Michigan city to stay OUT of gay-wedding business. A city in Michigan is punishing a Catholic
farm family because they refuse to allow gay weddings. The short of it is that this Catholic family was denied entry into
the farmers market in East Lansing back in 2016 after the city found out that the Tenneses don't allow gay marriages on their
farm. They had previously been a part of the farmers market for the past 7 years. Now they are fighting it out
in court and hope that the recent victory by Colorado baker Jack Phillips will help them.
farm family fights to stay out of gay-wedding business with help from Colorado baker. All Steve and Bridget
Tennes want is to sell their apples, peaches and blueberries at a Michigan farmers market without being required to get into
the same-sex wedding business, and they are hoping for an assist from Colorado baker Jack Phillips. The Tenneses, who
make their home on the Country Mill Farm with their six children, contend that their Catholic faith has been maligned by East
Lansing officials who have sought to bar them from the city's farmers market over their refusal to host same-sex ceremonies
on their property.
Flooding: When the Government Cares More about Birds than People. [Scroll down] Until 2004, the
government kept its end of the bargain, and flooding, while still a danger, was dramatically lessened in frequency and
severity by the prudent operation of the dam system and the mechanical restructuring of the river itself. That last
paragraph, while perfectly reasonable to normal folks, is cause for outrage and seething anger among the increasingly radical
environmentalist left, which is enamored of a dream of "rewilding" vast sections of North America via the "recovery" of river
basins. One might ask, "Recovery from what?" In a word, the answer is "man." Environmental groups like the
Sierra Club and American Rivers advocate the wholesale removal of dams, even if it requires the forced relocation of millions
of people and their businesses. They seek a continent with untamed rivers, devoid of human interference with the perceived
"natural processes" of ebb and flood. At this level of green-think, it is more religion than science, with devotion
measured in antipathy for the needs of mankind whenever there is conflict with nature.
Wins 20-Year Fight Against HOA to Fly American Flag on Property. A U.S. Marine veteran won a 20-year fight against
his homeowners' association (HOA) to fly an American flag on his property. Richard Oulton, a Vietnam veteran of the U.S.
Marines who resides in Virginia, began his legal fight against his HOA in 1999, when the HOA told him he had to take down his
flagpole because neighbors said his flag caused a disturbance to the community.
Trump Must Veto the Federal Land Grab Bill. President Trump gave one of his most memorable and impactful
speeches two weeks ago, when he systematically dismantled the case for socialism. In that speech, he recalled the
economic harm and destruction in nations that have adopted socialism, communism or Stalinism. "America will never be a
socialist country," Trump pledged in his speech in Florida. Well said. And the first big step that Trump could
take in preventing any slippery slide in that direction would be to veto the Land and Water Conservation Fund bill, which
enables the federal government to spend billions to purchase millions of acres of private lands for "conservation."
What? Uncle Sam is going to take out of private hands millions more acres of America's valuable landmass? This is
the reverse of privatization — it is the nationalization of our nation's farmland, forests, streams and pastures.
passes new national parks deal you've heard nothing about. Last week, the Senate passed massive public lands
legislation that contains a lot of good, but a lot of bad too. In light of the national emergency for the wall being
declared, the Green New Deal, and Democrats running for President, this land deal got little to no news coverage.
Court Sides with Landowners in Dispute over Frog Habitats. The Supreme Court on Tuesday [11/27/2018] ruled in
favor of Mississippi landowners who were prevented from clearing timber on their land due to state environmental laws
designed to protect the habitat of a certain species of frog that has never been spotted on the land in question. The
unanimous decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, set aside a lower-court ruling that held that the land used to
grow timber by the lumber company Weyerhauser Co. was rightfully declared a "critical habitat" for the endangered dusky
County Officials Establish "Health Advisory" Predicate To Block All Property Owners From Returning. Today,
Butte County health officials are establishing a the legal predicate to stop residents of Paradise, CA , and surrounding
region, from returning to live on their property following the devastating "Camp Fire" wildfire. The framework
surrounds a regional "health advisory"; however, the objective appears to be blocking anyone from returning to live on their
property for an undetermined period of time. This type of big-government intervention is concerning for a myriad
of reasons and could likely spur even more people to begin questioning motives: [...]
brothers face $450,000 in fines for tree removal on their property. Brothers in Michigan are facing nearly
$500,000 in fines for allegedly removing more than 1,400 trees from their 16-acre property without permission, a report on
Monday said. Gary and Matt Percy removed the trees with the intention of creating a Christmas tree farm on the Canton
Township plot, their attorney Michael Pattwell told MLive.com. The attorney said that the land was filled with invasive plants.
Left is promising to abuse power if they win; voters should take them seriously. In 2005, the Supreme Court
issued its landmark decision in Kelo v. New London, diminishing Americans' property rights. The ruling said that
governments can seize your home through eminent domain, even if their intention is merely to hand the land over to private
developers. Conservatives saw this as one more bad ruling from a Supreme Court that issued a whole lot of them.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was a bit more sanguine, and her famous response exemplifies the respect and
reverence that liberals once had for the Supreme Court, just so long as it was influencing culture and moving the national
conversation in a way they liked. "It is a decision of the Supreme Court," she said, emphasizing its finality.
"If Congress wants to change it, it will require legislation of a level of a constitutional amendment. So this is
almost as if God has spoken."
Department Sues California. On Monday [4/2/2018], the Department of Justice filed suit against the state of California,
challenging a state law that purports to prevent the federal government from selling federal lands without the permission of a state
agency. Passed by the California legislature in October 2017, Senate Bill 50 declares that, with limited exceptions, "conveyances
of federal public lands in California are void" unless the State Lands Commission is provided a "right of first refusal" or "the right
to arrange for the transfer of the federal public land to another entity." The statute also prohibits purchasers of federal land
from recording the deed to the newly acquired property without an accompanying "certificate of compliance" from the state commission
and provides for a $5,000 civil penalty for buyers who violate this provision.
Rent control: De
Blasio eyes vacancy tax for greedy landlords seeking top-dollar. As a growing number of vacant storefronts dot
the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday [3/30/2018] said he wants to penalize landlords who leave the shopfronts sitting empty. "I
am very interested in fighting for a vacancy fee or a vacancy tax that would penalize landlords who leave their storefronts
vacant for long periods of time in neighborhoods because they are looking for some top-dollar rent but they blight neighborhoods
by doing it," he said on WNYC. "That is something we could get done through Albany." A number of recent studies have
found retail corridors in prosperous Manhattan neighborhoods are struggling with double-digit vacancy rates, from 27 percent
on Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side to 20 percent on a stretch of Broadway in Soho. Five percent or less is
generally considered "healthy."
Now You Can't
Paint Over Graffiti On Your Own Building. If you need to make a couple million dollars and are willing to wait
for a while, there's a new way to do it. First you go buy some cans of spray paint. Then you get a ladder and go
tag somebody's building in New York City. After a while, the owner will probably try to paint over it or, in some
neighborhoods, tear the building down for new development. When either of those happens, you take the owner to court
claiming that it was art. Finally, the judge awards you the cash. That should have been the plot of a National
Lampoon movie. Unfortunately, we're talking about New York here, so it's a real story.
must pay $6.7M for destroying iconic graffiti art. A developer has been tagged with a $6.7 million judgment for
whitewashing the "formidable" work of 21 graffiti artists on the iconic 5 Pointz warehouse in Queens. Brooklyn federal-court
Judge Frederic Block on Monday [2/12/2018] angrily ordered developer Gerald Wolkoff — who erased about 45 works overnight
in the middle of both sides' court case in 2013 — to cough up the millions. "The shame of it all is that since
5 Pointz was a prominent tourist attraction, the public would undoubtedly have thronged to say its goodbyes during those
10 months and gaze at the formidable works of aerosol art for the last time," Block wrote in his decision. "It would
have been a wonderful tribute for the artists that they richly deserved."
State vs. Federal Management in the West. There is a great divide in the United States. Land in the
East is mostly privately owned, while nearly half of the land in the West is owned by the federal government. In recent
years, several western states have passed, introduced, or considered resolutions demanding that the federal government
transfer much of this land to state ownership. [...] We find that state trust agencies produce far greater financial returns
from land management than federal land agencies. In fact, the federal government often loses money managing valuable
natural resources. States, on the other hand, consistently generate significant amounts of revenue from state trust
lands. On average, states earn more revenue per dollar spent than the federal government for each of the natural
resources we examined, including timber, grazing, minerals, and recreation.
Homeowners Association Forces Residents to Keep Garage Doors Open to Deter Squatters. While the purpose behind an HOA — to
keep the neighborhoods neat and orderly — sounds great, it's important to remember that HOA membership basically means that your neighbors
get a say in what you do with your property. It's not enough to have federal, state, and local governments issuing rules over what you can and
can't do. No, we had to create these petty tyrannies to stick their noses in as well. Different HOAs have different rules, to be sure,
but they all focus on the mundane, trivial stuff. That's because the people who are attracted to rules like HOA boards and elected offices
are people who are often attracted to power in general.
Needs to Transfer All Federal Land Back to the States. The federal government now has a total of 640 million
acres under its control — almost a third of the nation's land. The majority of land in Nevada, Alaska, Utah, Oregon and
Idaho is owned by the feds. In Arizona, California, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Colorado, federal ownership exceeds a third.
Indeed, if all 11 Western states were combined into one territory, the feds would own nearly 50% of it. This land is primarily
administered by the United States Forest Service (USFS), the National Park Service (NPS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and
the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The Department of Defense also owns 20 million acres. But if liberals had
their way, even more land would be seized by the feds.
Attorney General Fights Against Personhood Claim for River. Colorado's Attorney General's office has asked a
federal court to dismiss a "first-of-its-kind" claim filed by members of Deep Green Resistance (DGR), a self-described
radical environmental group, requesting the court recognize the Colorado River ecosystem as a legal person with constitutional
rights. The lawsuit, Colorado River Ecosystem/Deep Green Resistance v. the State of Colorado, was filed on
September 25, 2017 in the U.S. Federal District Court in Denver. It asks for recognition of the right of the river
to "to exist, flourish, regenerate and naturally evolve." In addition, the suit requests the court to designate members
of Deep Green Resistance to "serve as guardians, or 'next friends,' for the Colorado River ecosystem," allowing them to sue in
court on behalf of the river.
Complaints Mount Over Phone Searches at U.S. Border Since 2011. They spoke of being humiliated and shaken.
They described being "made to feel like a criminal." And they maintained that their rights had been violated.
Grievances over lost privacy run through a trove of roughly 250 complaints by people whose laptops and phones were searched
without a warrant as they crossed the United States border. Filed with the Department of Homeland Security since 2011, mostly
during the Obama administration, these stories add a personal dimension to a growing debate over rights, security and technology.
Wildfires Don't Have to be the New Normal. There have been 8,771 wildfires recorded in Northern and Southern
California this year, so far, burning an equivalent of 3,346 square miles. [...] Consider the fact that in the American
South, which is much more heavily forested than California, such fires are unheard of. Might this have something to do
with the percentage of land in each region that is publicly owned and managed compared to the land that is privately owned
and managed? When land is privately owned, owners have strong incentives to maintain its long-term value. In the
South, this means that owners monitor their land for concentrations of deadwood that could spark fires. Especially
during dry seasons, controlled burns are very common in the South as the buildup of tinder and other forms of fuel are
eliminated so they are less susceptible to lightning strikes or other events that could cause them to burn out of
control. These landowners are acting in their self-interest, because any fire that gets out of control affects their
own pocketbook. But in acting in their own self-interest, they willingly perform actions that serve the social interest
too. This is what's lacking in California, and indeed, all the western states in which a vast majority of the land is
owned and managed by federal and state government.
'Monument' Was a Reward to a Clinton Donor. The shrinking in size of two national monuments in Utah by
President Trump through executive order was a long overdue rebuke to federal land grabs that have enabled federal control of
vast swaths of American land, particularly in the West. [...] President Trump, who has unlocked much of America's resources
that were formerly held hostage by greenies and others, has decided to return to the people of Utah control of and
decision-making power over the land of Utah, so you no longer need permission from a Beltway bureaucrat to pick up a rock and
move it one foot to the left.
Monument Fight. On Monday [12/4/2017], President Donald Trump visited Utah to announce the largest reductions
to national monuments in U.S. history. His order will shrink two national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante,
by roughly 2 million acres in total. The decision has drawn the ire of environmental groups and Democratic legislators
but has been applauded by Republican lawmakers and locals who want the land to remain open to multiple uses. Legal challenges
to the action have already been filed. But for every fit of rage over Trump's executive decision, there is an equal and
opposite reaction against the creation of national monuments, in which presidents can restrict land use across vast swaths of
the rural West — all without congressional approval. Whether you agree with Trump's monument reductions or not,
it's time to put aside our selective outrage over executive authority and roll back the century-old law that got us into this
situation in the first place.
Plan To Overhaul National Monuments Law Is All About 'Righting Past Overreach'. When President Donald Trump
speaks in Utah on Monday, he will not only be resizing two controversial national monuments, his administration will also be
making major changes to how federal lands are managed. Trump will sign orders to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand
Staircase-Escalante national monuments as recommended by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. However, that's only the
first step in the administration's plan for the Antiquities Act. In the coming months, the Department of the Interior
(DOI) will begin a larger conversation about how the Antiquities Act of 1906 is implemented once the president designates a
national monument, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.
dramatically shrinks Bears Ears National Monument and slashes another by half in the name of 'states' rights'.
President Donald Trump unveiled a plan Monday in Utah to dramatically scale back two national monuments — calling
it an important move for 'states' rights.' 'Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by
a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington. And guess what? They're wrong,' he said in the
cavernous Utah Capitol Rotunda in Salt Lake City. 'The families and communities of Utah know and love this land the
best. And you know the best how to take care of your land. You know how to protect it, and you know best how to
conserve this land for many, many generations to come,' he said.
is not 'shrinking a monument', he's reversing a shameless federal land grab. The media are wetting themselves
today because President Trump is "shrinking federal monuments." You'd think he was taking an axe to the Washington Monument
and chopping it down. But there are real monuments and then there are shameless federal land-grabs that get labeled
"monuments" before a gullible news media that gladly adopt whatever language a Democratic president uses to spin his
actions. The Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments were just that. There are elements of these
pieces of land that have some historical value, but Bill Clinton and Barack Obama exploited that to declare massive swaths of
land part of the "monuments," which put them almost completely under federal control over the objection of the State of Utah
and all of Utah's congressional delegation. There was no cultural purpose to this. None. It was strictly an
excuse to expand federal control over land.
Property Rights and the Supreme Court. Kelo v. City of New London stands as the apogee of Supreme
Court cases regarding property rights, especially for conservatives. A narrow 5-4 decision recklessly expanded the
scope of eminent domain, allowing private developers and the government to collude and forcibly take private property away
from citizens for "public use" under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Now the Court is faced with another
landmark case on property rights that will once again be a defining moment for conservatives. Oil States Energy
Services, LLC v. Greene's Energy Group, LLC asks the court to decide the scope and power of the Patent and
Trademark Appeals Board (PTAB), and whether this unaccountable government agency can extra-constitutionally extinguish "...
private property rights through a non-Article III forum without a jury."
the News You Are Glad You Missed. In New York, recently re-elected Mayor Bill de Blasio shared his view of what
the electorate wants: "I think people all over this city, of every background, would like to have the city government
be able to determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be. I
think there's a socialist impulse ... that they would like things to be planned in accordance to their needs. And I
would, too. ... If I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land, how development would
proceed." Unfortunately, says the mayor, "Our legal system is structured to favor private property."
Mayor de Bolshevik.
In a wide-ranging and candid interview with New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio casually noted that the "way our legal system is
structured to favor private property" provokes his "anger, which is visceral." The mayor elaborated on this point, insisting
that "people all over this city, of every background, would like to have the city government be able to determine which
building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be." The mayor begs the question
of who would build anything under these strict conditions.
de Blasio Sure Sounds Like a Communist. [Scroll down] So in addition to complaining about a legal system
organized around the concept of private property, de Blasio wants the government to "determine every single plot of land, how
development would proceed." That is quite an admission. However, it's worth noting that de Blasio has been more than
willing to cozy up to private developers when it suits his needs and advances his political career.
Is Your Dog
'Contraband'? An awful ruling for pet owners has come from a federal court, in a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge
George Caram Steeh. But the threat is not just to Fido and Fluffy, because, as anyone familiar with how precedent becomes
corrupted knows, the ruling will be cited and abused far beyond its original, flawed bases. [...] In deciding an unlicensed dog is
"contraband" not protected by the Fourth Amendment, the ruling confuses government "licenses" with "title," i.e., private ownership
and possession. The ruling will eventually be cited in cases involving property other than dogs and other unlicensed activity
in our overly license-happy statist society.
This Is Not
The United States. What is the technical moment when the Constitution failed? Maybe that goes as far
back as Theodore Roosevelt when he decided that it would be a good idea to occupy huge swaths of the Western states.
Make no mistake, these are not states in the same way another state might have 3-5% federally-owned land somewhere as an
island in the mass of privately-owned land. Western states are between 35-85% federally-owned lands. That is
an occupation and I often refer to the Western states as the Occupied States of America.
Court Limits Rights Of Property Owners. The Supreme Court constrained the rights of property owners Friday [6/23/2017],
establishing a test that favors government officials in assessing the loss of property value caused by government regulations.
Writing for a 5-3 court, Justice Anthony Kennedy explained that state and local officials can combine separate parcels of land in
assessing whether local government has effectively seized private property through regulation, requiring compensation.
Kennedy's opinion was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Chief
Justice John Roberts filed a fiery dissent, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. The case concerned a
Wisconsin family called the Murrs, who argued that the government has unconstitutionally taken their land by refusing to allow
them to sell it.
gives land back to Americans. Presidents use executive orders to declare large patches of lands of limits to
development, by designating them as memorials and the like. For example, Barack Obama declared 1.35 million acres of
Utah off limits last December because it is allegedly is an area sacred to a few Indians. No hearing. No vote by
our representatives in Congress. Just a lame-duck president with a pen deciding the fate of an area larger than Rhode Island.
Man Sentenced to 30 Days in Jail — for Collecting Rainwater on His Property. A rural Oregon man was
sentenced Wednesday [3/29/2017] to 30 days in jail and over $1,500 in fines because he had three reservoirs on his property to collect
and use rainwater. Gary Harrington of Eagle Point, Ore., says he plans to appeal his conviction in Jackson County (Ore.) Circuit Court
on nine misdemeanor charges under a 1925 law for having what state water managers called "three illegal reservoirs" on his property —
and for filling the reservoirs with rainwater and snow runoff.
Takes a National Lead in Robbing Landlords of Basic Rights. With a heavy-handed new law that is the first of its kind in the
nation, Seattle has set its regulatory crosshairs on landlords, attempting to police their inner thoughts and eliminate the possibility that
their decisions could be motivated by "implicit" or unintended bias. Known as the "first in time" rule, the mandate forces landlords
to rent to the first qualified applicant, rather than choosing the best fit from among prospective tenants. Sponsors contended that
this unprecedented restriction is needed because traditional anti-discrimination laws do not protect against unconscious prejudices.
Airbnb and Property
Rights Don't Go Together. For defenders of the so-called "sharing economy," companies like the housing-sharing
website Airbnb and the ride-sharing app Uber are near-sacred. In the case of Uber, "sharing" enthusiasts argue that the
company is a symbol of disruption against an anticompetitive status quo. In the case of Airbnb, it offers a similar
defense, with the added point that Airbnb hosts are simply exercising their property rights to get more value out of their
homes. Certainly, these people have a point about Uber. But when it comes to Airbnb, the "disruption" involved
does more harm than good. Why? Because contrary to the claim that Airbnb strengthens property rights, in a huge
number of cases, that is anything but true.
Issues More Last-Minute National Monument Designations. President Barack Obama announced Thursday evening [1/12/2017] the
unilateral creation of three new national monuments to honor America's civil rights history, along with adding tens of thousands of acres
to two existing West Coast monuments. Obama announced the creation of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument in and Freedom
Riders National Monument in Alabama. Obama also created the Reconstruction Era National Monument in South Carolina using his
authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act.
Couple Told They Have No Water Rights, Forced to Destroy Their Own Pond. Remember the Oregon 'Rain Man' or Gary
Harrington — who was sent to 30 days in Jackson County Jail and slapped with a $1,500 fine for collecting
rainwater on his 170-acre property? He was ordered to breach his dams and drain his ponds that held more
than 13 million gallons of water, enough to fill 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Now, an Oregon couple faces a similar
fate as Gary Harrington because the rain belongs to the overbearing government, because corporate greed claims water is not a
human right, and because Americans are not entitled to do what they please on their private property.
spar with Obama over new national monuments in Utah and Nevada. With the exception of his time spent serving in
the Army during the Vietnam War, Sandy Johnson has spent most of his 67 years running cattle in southeastern Utah's starkly
beautiful San Juan County. Like many of his fellow ranchers, Johnson has leased land from the federal government for
decades to graze his cattle on open range. But President Obama's recent establishment of the Bears Ears National Monument
in Utah and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada has caused Johnson and his neighbors to worry that the land his family's
cattle has grazed on for generations may soon be off limits and that the landscape he has spent his entire life working may be
inexorably changed. "I think this land should have stayed open to everyone and not be regulated by the federal government,"
Johnson told FoxNews.com.
seizes yet another 1.65 million acres of American land for the feds. In a bold rebuke of Utah's entire
congressional delegation, President Obama seized nearly 1.35 million acres of land in southeastern Utah to create the Bears
Ears Monument in San Juan County, Utah, this week. Obama also claimed 300,000 acres in Clark County, Nev., as the Gold
Butte National Monument. For months, Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Congressmen Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah and Rob Bishop,
R-Utah were vocal in their opposition to President Obama unilaterally designating over a million acres of their state's land
as a national monument, without any input from any elected officials.
the Third Amendment Teaches about Individual Rights and Responsibilities. I don't think I've ever heard anyone
say that the Third Amendment is their favorite one — not even the most geeky law student I have known.
Honestly, no one pays it much attention. The Third Amendment reads: "No soldier shall, in time of peace be
quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law."
Most people have heard of the idea that "a man's home is his castle." This is a phrase used by Englishman Sir Edward Coke,
indicating a basic right of home and property that government should not infringe upon ("et domus sua cuique tutissimum
refugium"). Our homes are not only our legal, physical property, but our refuge — something much more
than what is today called a "safe space."
fights government in land dispute near Area 51. Joe Sheahan is in the fight of his life to save his family's
Nevada mine from being swallowed up by the federal government's mysterious Area 51. Technically, Sheahan's family no
longer even holds title to Groom Mine, which it owned for 130 years. The federal government took the deed through
eminent domain after first offering the Sheahans $333,300, a price family lawyer James Leavitt called "embarrassingly low."
The family is fighting back in federal court, but if the Sheahans and Uncle Sam can't agree on a value, it could wind up
before a jury. Possibly more interesting is what the federal government wants with a parched stretch of rural Nevada
desert and an old mine that hasn't been active in decades. The area is known for two of the feds' most closely guarded
secrets: nuclear testing and UFOs.
Usurp Housing Authority to Fight "Racism". The federal government is using the concept of "sustainable development" to usurp complete
and unchallengeable control over housing in the United States. There is one group of patriots, however, that refuses to stand idly by while
the fundamental right to property is abolished by the bureaucracy. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the federal agency leading the
attack against property rights and against local, accountable self-government after the fashion favored and established by our ancestors. John
Anthony of Sustainable Freedom Lab recognizes the threat and is warning his countrymen about the scope and severity of the federal assault.
Westerners Under the Federal Boot. The federal government owns an estimated one-third of all the land in the
United States. But this is only a rough estimate, because even the federal government does not actually know how much
land it controls. For those living on the East Coast who rarely encounter federal land, this may not seem like an
important issue, but in western states, the vast amounts of land owned or controlled by the federal government are among the
most important issues that states must face. And the Obama administration is using the power of that land ownership to
grind westerners under the federal boot, a kind of neo-feudalism where an absentee landlord federal government keeps western
states and the citizens who live there as vassals and serfs.
Transgender Restrooms and All Similar Matters, Let Property Owners Decide. As a people, we seem largely
incapable of allowing each other to live according to our individually chosen values. When Jim Crow laws dictated
segregation in the last century, it wasn't enough to merely repeal those laws. We had to err in the other direction.
We had to dictate integration. From that era rose the modern concept of "public accommodation," an insidious claim against
the property and association rights of others. When you open a business, the theory goes, you yield your authority over the
venue where it is housed. You must, under the force of law, do business with people you may not want to do business with,
and on terms that you may not agree to. Why? Because discrimination is bad. But is it?
Obama's Eleventh Hour
Land Grab. These last several months of the Obama presidency may be the most dangerous time in America's
history, at least domestically. Having nothing to lose and with time waning, Obama is throwing all caution to the wind
as he attempts to push as much of his radical anti-freedom agenda as is possible before his tenure comes to a close. A
large part of his or any anti-freedom agenda is the confiscation of wealth and property from the private sector and Obama is
leaving no stone unturned in his want to do so. CFact is reporting on just one of his parting shot land grabs: the
"Endangered Species Act" (ESA). [...] He has ordered the like-minded autocrats at the Interior Department to get busy rewriting
and making new rules and regulations to further strengthen the ESA — and weaken us.
Regulation That Drastically Infringes Landowners' Rights. On March 30, the Supreme Court heard arguments in
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co. This case is one of a collection of land use cases that trickle into
the Court from time to time, all representing the same problem: The Clean Water Act drastically limits the rights of
landowners to build or develop on land that constitutes "waters of the United States" (WOTUS). Unfortunately, the term
"waters of the United States" is left undefined. This leads to what, in many cases, appears to be "interpretation via
whim" by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — the agency tasked with issuing regulations to implement the Clean
Water Act. The Corps of Engineers regulations are notoriously ambiguous, complex, and expensive to comply with.
According to one study, obtaining a permit costs an average of $270,000 and takes more than two years.
BLM Tyranny. According
to Article I, Section 8, aside from adding territory as spoils from war, the only way the federal government can own property
is if they "purchase" it with the "consent" of the State legislature for the purpose of "needful buildings." Much of the land west
of the Mississippi River owned by the federal government was not obtained in either manner. As a result, the Bureau of Land
Management unconstitutionally regulates/manages (or should I say "mismanages") a massive portion of the United States.
Confrontations have emerged in Nevada and Oregon, of late, with the Bundy name attached to both situations. The iron grip
by the federal government on these lands has led to limitations on land use, be it for grazing, farming, timber or other uses
that in our short history as a country was not so much of a concern not very long ago. According to Ken Ivory, a Republican
state representative from Utah, the land belongs to the ranchers, and farmers, and ultimately to the citizens. "This land
is your land," he says, "and not the federal government's."
a land grab. The Supreme Court will decide Friday [2/26/2016] whether to review an appeals court decision enabling
the most blatant federal land grab since the federal government broke a treaty with the Cherokee Nation to seize millions of acres
of Cherokee land in Oklahoma at the end of the 19th century. The American Farm Bureau, an association of farmers, has sued
the Environmental Protection Agency to restrain the agency from assuming the authority to say whether and how a farmer can plant
crops on his own property. Further, it would prevent the EPA from using the decision as precedent to seize new authority
over private property anywhere.
Don't Fence Us In: Western States Seek Return of
Land From D.C.. According to the United States Geological Survey, nearly half the land in the Western United States is owned by the federal government. This
includes 84.9 percent of land in Nevada (hiding UFOs requires lots of space), 64.9 percent of Utah, 61.6 percent of Idaho, 61.2 percent of Alaska,
52.9 percent of Oregon, 48.1 percent of Wyoming, and 45.8 percent in California. Meanwhile, the federal government owns only about 5 percent
of the land in states east of the Mississippi River. Altogether, Uncle Sam owns roughly 640 million acres of land.
John Adams Predicted Bernie Sanders and His Acolytes. [Scroll down] Imagine (though imagination may very
well not be required) that you "own" your home and the land upon which it sits. Imagine, however, that you do not pay the
government an annual duty, called property tax, for your having squatted on that land with your family over the past year.
Now, consider that government agents with guns can come to your home to arrest and jail you if you don't pay, or even kill
you if you resist the coerced payment of that required tribute. In what sense do you "own" this property? The point
is that our property, including the wealth which is the fruits of our trades, is no longer our property first and above
all, protected as a right of man by a government which was initially designed to do just that. It is, rather, only our
property insofar as our neighbors have decided, through popular votes, to allow us to keep.
tramples core conservative belief in property rights. Property ownership exists in some form in every nation, but it is often
informal. Even in the most unfree nations, the powerful elite feel secure about what they own, in part because the property rights of
others are theirs to trample. What distinguishes America from such countries is not its abundance of natural resources or the race of
its people, but its scrupulous cultural and legal dedication to protecting everyone's private property rights. This critical application
of the rule of law is what allowed a massive middle class to form and grow on a scale unprecedented in history.
in Oregon Centers on Land Ownership and Control. Understanding the resistance to federal agencies currently
shown in headlines and newscasts nationwide should begin with a reading of the U.S. Constitution. A good look at the
venerable document will lead to the conclusion that the federal government's numerous bureaus and agencies are illicitly
controlling vast parcels of land, mostly in the 12 western states. They are doing so without constitutional authority.
The amount of federal land holdings in 12 western states adds up to 47 percent of their total area. Federal control
over parcels of land in the eastern states exists as well, although ownership in the east is not nearly as widespread. In
states east of the Mississippi River, the federal government possesses only four percent of the land.
Federal Government Should Follow the Constitution and Sell Its Western Lands. "Time and again [the president]
preached cooperation and partnership. ... And time and again he was the first to ignore his own call," says the governor of
Colorado. Wyoming's governor complains: "The federal system is badly out of kilter. Federal encroachments on
state and local governments are at an all-time high." The governor of Arizona fumes: "What galls westerners is ... the
federal insistence that it is entitled to act not only as landowners, but also as sovereign." Adds Colorado's governor:
"[Government bureaucrats] can't figure out whether they're landlord or king," as they "steamroll state agencies, ride roughshod over
regional water rights, and destroy environmental laws [in an] arrogant nullification of 200 years of constitutional history."
These are the impassioned words, not of today's western governors, but instead of governors from nearly four decades ago, Democrats all,
objecting to the policies of President Jimmy Carter.
Property Rights and Religious
Liberty. Many Christians, while they cherish religious liberty, seem to believe that property rights, and the commerce
that arises from the establishment of property rights, are somehow un-Christian. At the same time, a lot of free marketers
seem to think that all we need are property rights and the rest will take care of itself. Neither of these views is correct,
and I will explain why with reference to both James Madison and Winston Churchill.
Massive, Empty Federal Lands of the American West. In most of the Northeast and South, where the only federal
presence is the occasional military base or national park, complaints that the government owns too much land seem laughable.
But out west, the government lays claim to huge, state-sized swaths of land — more than 630 million acres,
greater than the landmass of Texas, California, Florida and New York combined. In some states, government agencies
are the biggest landowner; in Nevada, 80 percent of land is federally owned.
Red River Landowners Take Battle with Feds to
Court. Seven families are suing the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in federal district court, accusing the agency of perpetrating an
"arbitrary seizure" of land along a 116-mile strip of the river, whose meandering has spurred a century's worth of property disputes along the
Texas-Oklahoma border. Wichita, Clay and Wilbarger counties — and the Clay County sheriff — have also signed onto the
suit, filed late Monday [11/16/2015] in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The group is bringing firepower from
Austin. Lawyers from the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the state's pre-eminent conservative think tank, are representing the North Texans
on the foundation's dime.
Family Declared as Terrorist and Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison. Our hearts and prayers go out to
the Hammond family with deep empathy. The magnitude of the injustices dealt to them is hard to comprehend. Their
once happy lives have been forever darkened with pains of corruptions. The nature of their sentencing proves once again
that justice is currently not found in the federal courts. The Hammonds are a simple ranching family that for
generations has cared for the land they live upon. Prescribed burns are a vital process in keeping the land healthy
and productive in the area. The BLM also performs prescribed burns and have let it get out of control many times,
but never has it cost any federal agent hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and years of life in prison.
members of Oregon's Hammond family to serve time in prison after burning 140 acres of BLM land. "I call it 'as
the sagebrush burns,'" said Erin Maupin of the long and storied history involving the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), special
interest groups and the cattle ranchers on the Steens Mountain of Oregon. The latest scene involved two ranchers being
sentenced to five years in federal prison for inadvertantly burning about 140 acres of BLM rangeland in two separate fires,
years ago. That is an area big enough to feed about three cow-calf pairs for a year in that neck of the woods. Dwight,
73 and son Steven, 46, admitted in a 2012 court case, to lighting two different fires. Both fires started on Hammonds'
'That Devil Wilkes'.
General warrants that named a crime but no criminals had been the last remnant of an era before the
Magna Carta when "divinely inspired" monarchs wielded absolute power over English subjects. They
allowed the king to invade any home, seize any person, and search any papers — all without
probable cause or anything approaching due process. But now, after Wilkes's victory spelled their
demise, England truly was a constitutional monarchy. "Every innocent man" could, in Wilkes's words,
"sleep in peace and security in his own house, unviolated by the king's messengers, and the arbitrary
mandates of an overbearing secretary of state. When James Madison drafted the Bill of Rights and
introduced it in the First Congress, no case was more famous in America than John Wilkes's trespass suit
against Lord Halifax and his messengers.
Florida officials back off land
restriction, thanks to property-rights watchdog. Martin County officials have decided
they will not levy $1,000 daily fines against the Flash Beach Grille restaurant for violating a
decades' old, unrecorded environmental property restriction. Never mind the local government's
beef stemmed from its own mistake, or that enforcing the fines was probably against state law.
Robert and Anita Breinig, the restaurant's owners, can now move forward with their business, and
Declare Mouse Endangered, Family Might Lose Everything. A family's livestock enterprise in New Mexico
is in danger of being completely shut down now that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared the meadow jumping
mouse to be an endangered species, Watchdog reports. The new regulations came into effect from the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service last month, and as a result, the U.S. Forest Service is considering installing 8-foot high fences to
protect the mouse, which would permanently prevent the Lucero family's livestock from grazing. The family is
already in possession of grazing permits from the federal government, but the permits become irrelevant in the event
that a new species is declared endangered. The Lucero family has had their livestock graze on the land in the
Santa Fe National Forest for more than a century, starting first with sheep, but then switching to cattle in the 1920s.
Park Service seeks to ease tensions with Point Reyes farmers. Point Reyes National
Seashore is unusual among U.S. parks. Its shimmering coastline and velvety hillsides make for a
majestic Marin County landscape — and its two dozen commercial dairy farms and ranches
make for one of the nastiest disagreements in the national park system. Farmers and ranchers here
have a list of grievances against a federal government they say burdens their operations with
needless red tape. Worse, they believe park officials secretly want to force them to shut down, and
they complain that little has been done to rein in tule elk that graze on land meant for livestock.
States Want Feds to Surrender "Federal" Land. Elected officials from across the American West,
from top lawmakers to county commissioners, held a historic gathering in Utah in recent days to discuss how
Western states could wrest control of the almost 50 percent of land in the region currently claimed by
the federal government. Aside from constitutional concerns — with a few exceptions, the U.S.
Constitution does not authorize ownership or control over land by the political class in Washington,
D.C. — the Western leaders and legislators cited economic harm, environmental degradation,
loss of tax revenue, and numerous other reasons for the effort.
The Editor says...
I wonder where Mr. Obama thinks the money will come from. Or does it matter?
Administration to Stop EPA Takeover of Ponds, Ditches, Streams. Lawmakers are urging Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
Gina McCarthy and the White House to put the brakes on rulemaking that would drastically expand the agency's jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.
The redefinition of "waters of the United States" would include all ponds, lakes, wetlands and natural or manmade streams that have any effect on
downstream navigable waters — whether on public lands or private property. [...] In a fast-tracking move, the EPA sent its draft rulemaking
proposal to the White House for approval before the scientific study on which the changes are based was peer reviewed.
EPA Stealthily Propels
Toward 'Massive Power Grab of Private Property Across the U.S.'. While the country is immersed in Obamacare headlines and a congressional
tussle over delays and mandates, the Obama administration is stealthily moving toward unprecedented control over private property under a massive
expansion of the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Water Act authority. The proposed rule, obtained by the House Science, Space, and
Technology Committee in advance of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy's testimony at a Thursday [11/14/2013] oversight hearing, widely broadens the
definition of waterways over which the federal government has jurisdiction to as little as a water ditch in a backyard.
Virginia Farmer Starts Rights Legal
Revolution. Long and growing is the list of property rights abuses by federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.
Even at the state level, wetlands and other laws are being used to invade and destroy private property rights. [...] Private property owners can go bankrupt
litigating to defend and protect their property rights, and government bureaucrats and lawyers rely on that as part of their strategy to push their extortive
GOP accuses EPA of 'unprecedented'
power grab with proposed water rule. Two Republican lawmakers on the House Science Committee are accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of
pushing through a rule that could potentially expand the agency's regulatory authority over streams, wetlands and other bodies under the Clean Water Act.
Reps. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Chris Stewart, R-Utah, on Friday [10/18/2013] sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy expressing concern over the
proposed draft rule, which they say would give the agency "unprecedented control over private property across the nation."
Hijacking Rights. The original
Founders' concepts of rights were strictly political rights. They were a moral concept of enabling individual freedom
of action in a social context. Our founding documents protected our natural right to our own life, the right to be left
alone, to be free to act without asking for permission, and to be free from the force of others. Included in these
rights were property rights. They were not the right to goods but the right to pursue goods through your own individual
action. There was no guarantee that you would earn any property but if you did earn it, you would own it.
farmers in SCOTUS case face $650K charge if they don't give half their crop to the feds. Luckily, the Supreme Court
decided to take the case of the Horne family, so they may end up etaining the right to freely sell the raisin crop they've duly
produced, but how is it that they must appeal to the highest court in the land for that right? Well, it all started in 1937,
as so many good things do, when the federal government began requiring raising [sic] farmers to lay aside
a tribute portion of their crops in order to control supply and price.
Court Silences Man Who Painted Protest Sign on His
House. William Bowden painted "Screwed by the Town of Cary" on his house after a road-widening project (allegedly) directed runoff
onto his property, damaging his North Carolina home. Within hours, zoning officials paid him a visit, ordering him to remove the sign or
pay fines of up to $500 for each day of noncompliance. When Bowden sued, the town argued the sign was a safety hazard for passing motorists.
Officials presented no evidence for this assertion — no studies or experts. An estimated 15,000 drivers passed the sign every day
for months and, according to court testimony, had precisely zero accidents.
America's water into Big Green's elite empire. Two weeks ago, outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar named the White
River — which cuts 722 miles through its 17.8 million-acre watershed, crossing 60 counties in Arkansas and
Missouri — as the second National Blueway. What exactly, we should ask, is a National Blueway? In short, it's
the focus of the biggest federal land grab in American history.
Virginia vintners taste the police state.
While the Obama administration is busy eviscerating private property rights at the federal level, Republican-controlled Fauquier County, Va., has decided to
follow suit in its own way. Fauquier's Board of Supervisors recently passed a winery ordinance that tramples private property rights and some fundamental
civil liberties. The county, which is located about an hour west of Washington, calls itself an agricultural community. Its scenic, sprawling
farmlands have become home to a growing number of wineries. Vintners have discovered that Fauquier's climate and rich soil are ideal for growing grapes.
Most of the wineries are mom and pop operations. Some, though, have been more creative in marketing, employing more people, and generating revenue.
The county thinks such success must be punished.
The EPA's Property
Wrongs in America. The EPA said the Feds didn't have to explain their rationale to the Sacketts, and that the Sacketts
didn't even merit a day in court to defend the property they'd purchased. The Sacketts couldn't argue that the property wasn't
wetlands, as the EPA claimed, or that these wetlands and the lake itself had no connection to navigable waters, as "navigable
waters of the United States" means you can conduct commercial trade on the water from state to state. Why didn't they merit
their day in court? Because the EPA said so — saying they aren't entitled. ... The U.S. district and appellate courts have ruled
that the Sacketts must wait until the EPA decides to sue them — and can claim millions of dollars in fines — before
they can get a day in court.
Serfs in Warrenville. Elizabeth
Warren is unsurprisingly a lawyer, even less surprisingly, a Harvard Law professor, still less surprisingly,
she had a string of government appointments on influential committees. Her resume is representative of
how unrepresentative Harvard lawyers with government connections are to the people on whose behalf they claim
to have abolished private property.
Washington Wants Even More Acres To Mismanage.
The next Congress should enact a moratorium on land nationalization. The feds should stop fleecing exhausted
taxpayers for fresh billions to purchase new acreage for Uncle Sam to mismanage. Washington, D.C. already
lords over some 650 million acres, or 29 percent of America's land. The federal government owns
45.3 percent of California, 48 percent of Arizona, 57.45 percent of Utah, 69 percent of Alaska,
and 84.5 percent of Nevada. No state from the Rockies west is less than 30 percent federal, as
are Montana and Washington. But that is not enough.
How Obama Is Locking Up Our Land.
Have you heard of the "Great Outdoors Initiative"? Chances are, you haven't. But across the country,
White House officials have been meeting quietly with environmental groups to map out government plans for
acquiring untold millions of acres of both public and private land. It's another stealthy power grab
through executive order that promises to radically transform the American way of life.
and the Right to Private Property. The right to private property was one of the central issues
involved in the American Revolution. The colonists' cries of "taxation without representation" were but
protests of what they saw as an unjust taking of private property.
our history ... of respect for property rights. For five years, [Sherwood] Duvall has been
fighting the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission's determination that his farm should be
a "protected" historic site. County regulators say the set of farm buildings on his property are
historically and architecturally significant. "There's nothing historical about it," Duvall
counters. "It is just old."
Every Drop of Water in America. Some in the
federal government want to exert control over ... every drop of water in America. It is an attack on private
property and it is emblematic of the real agenda of environmentalists. It is Communism. The American Land
Rights Association recently issued a notice. "Having been slapped down by the U.S. Supreme Court's two recent
decisions that the words 'navigable waters' in the Clean Water Act limited federal agencies to regulation of navigable
waters only, Democrats and liberal Republicans in Congress are striking back."
White House Land Grab.
You'd think the Obama administration is busy enough controlling the banks, insurance companies and automakers,
but thanks to whistleblowers at the Department of the Interior, we now learn they're planning to increase their
control over energy-rich land in the West.
We've legalized theft in America. I have been looking
through a new study, released by an organization called the Property Rights Alliance, called the International Property
Rights Index. The study examines 115 nations worldwide and examines the correspondence between prosperity in a
country and how secure private property is there. It shows a practically perfect correlation. The more
secure private property is in a given country, the more prosperous it is.
The Great Green Land Grab. All across
America, various environmental organizations are engaged in schemes to deter development such as housing, new
energy plants, or the horror of a manufacturing facility that might actually employ people. In some states,
the attack has been on farms and ranches, finding ways to punish their owners for improving their land in any
fashion such as digging a drainage ditch.
Areas vs. Property Rights. Historical preservationists are encountering opposition from conservative activists,
who see the rapid growth in congressionally created heritage areas as a backdoor way to restrict property owners' rights to
develop their land as they see fit.
Supreme Court Issues Murky Decision in
Wetlands Case. While the Court found that federal agencies have overstepped their bounds in
regulating wetland development under the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Court issued an ambiguous ruling, missing
a golden opportunity to clearly define the scope of, and provide a check on the federal government's authority
to regulate private property.
Farmers Take Water War to Canada. More than 40 Texas farmers, ranchers and irrigation districts
are gearing up to take their long-standing water war with Mexico to the next level, which in this case is a
Canadian judge. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs came to the Rio Grande Valley for a pep talk Tuesday
[2/5/2008], to reinvigorate farmers who have been fighting for three years and running up legal bills of
almost $500,000. "You roll over now and you won't be in good shape," Combs told a room full of farmers
Oh, No. John Turner
For Under Secretary of Interior. You can have a say in who is the next Secretary of the
Interior! The Green are planning to take back the position. Great favorite John Turner is being
considered for the position of Under-Secretary of the Interior to replace Steven Griles. The idea is to
have Gale Norton resign in the next two years and move Turner up to Secretary of Interior. Thousands of
landowners and Federal land users worked hard in 2001 to head off Turner. Now you must do it again.
2001 Clinton logging
plan challenged. The Wyoming attorney general and an environmental lawyer challenged the
legitimacy of a 2001 Clinton administration logging plan Wednesday [5/4/2005] before the 10th Circuit Court of
Appeals. The plan set aside 58 million acres nationwide as roadless areas in which logging is
prohibited. It also barred the U.S. Forest Service from maintaining roads in those areas.
Acts of emergency.
It's quite a bite out of the future, for the sake of the past. ... [A] stupid and intrusive law, a usurpation,
nothing more than plunder tarted up as a never-ending history lesson, how could it be construed as an emergency?
Yes, that's how the august Oregon state senators labeled their legislation.
America sold out. For
nearly 200 years, governments in America rarely bought private property, except "...for the erection of forts,
magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings," as specified in the U.S. Constitution. In
the last 30 years, however, all governments — federal, state, and local, — have gone
on a buying spree, gobbling up land everywhere, to protect and preserve, which, incidentally, is not one of the
purposes authorized by the Constitution. One day, Americans could wake up to find themselves renters in
their own country.
Land Use and Zoning: Churches across the
nation are increasingly facing discrimination from local zoning authorities with respect to location or
improvement of their facilities. Zoning Boards often want to eliminate churches from downtown and
commercial areas because churches do not generate retail and tax revenue. They also attempt to restrict
churches in residential areas for allegedly creating traffic and noise problems. The result has been that
our nation's houses of faith have their freedom to worship where and how they choose violated by ignorant or
hostile zoning officials.
South Dakota landowners dodge
a bullet. Since 1973, South Dakota law had barred hunting on private property without the owners'
permission and recognized the right of owners to deny entry to all others. Additionally, the U.S. Supreme
Court has held consistently that firing weapons over or onto private property is a physical invasion, which, in
turn, is an unconstitutional taking, a taking "for public use" without "just compensation."
Seize Your Property to Give to Someone Richer? Can local government
officials boot working-class citizens and the elderly out of their homes or small
businesses so that their properties can be sold on the cheap to higher tax-generating
shopping malls and business complexes? In many cities across America the answer
is yes. But is it constitutional?
vision: Santa Monica, California, has decreed a fine of $2,500 a day for not
cutting your hedges! Has someone discovered some terrible health hazard or other danger from hedges that are
too high? Not at all. The politicians who run Santa Monica have simply decided that people
should not be able to build a high wall of hedges around themselves.
Klamath water crisis was
a painful betrayal. When the federal government shut off irrigation water on April 6, 2001, to
220,000 acres of farmland and two wildlife refuges to "protect" a pair of bottom-feeding suckerfish species and
Coho salmon — so plentiful [that] U.S. Fish and Wildlife workers were clubbing them to death
elsewhere — it forever changed the face of controversial Endangered Species Act and people's lives.
Science and the Environment:
There is a deliberate and quite outspoken attack on the whole idea of people owning private property. Mr.
William Riley, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has said publicly on a number of occasions that
he does not believe that people should have the right to own private property.
The "Land Grab" act passes. The CARE Act of
2003 has been dubbed the "Land Grab Act" due to Sections 106 and 107 which give tax advantages to environmental
green groups like The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Under these sections, sellers get a 25% break on
capital gains tax — but only if they sell the land to an "environmental" or "conservation" group (or
the government). This will discourage competition among bidders and lower prices for land, since TNC can
come in with a lower price due to the tax break. Not that lower prices hurt the greens — they
just sell it back to the land-hungry government at a profit.
The Great National Land Grab: The National
Heritage Areas program is an expensive, insidious attempt by non-governmental organizations and federal agencies
to impose land use controls and zoning mandates on unsuspecting local communities.
Wyoming Man Asserts Claims
Against U.S. Forest Service. A Wyoming man, who has been sued by the United States in an attempt
by the U.S. Forest Service to seize land for use as a federal trail, today formally entered the
lawsuit. … The land now claimed by the United States and the subject of the lawsuit was used as a
railroad right-of-way from February 1904 until September 1995, when it was abandoned by the railroad
company; all tracks and ties were removed by 2000. The United States asserts that, under the
federal Rails-to-Trails Act, it may negate the reversionary interest held by Mr. Brandt.
Working Hard or Hardly Working? Because of oddities in federal land law, the federal government
could eject Donald Eno him from his property, if it can prove that his claim has no value or that it is more
valuable for use as a sacred, scenic, or geological site. Fortunately, [this time, an] administrative law
judge rejected the testimony of the Forest Service employees and ruled for Mr. Eno.
National Heritage Areas: The War Over
Words. The Founders did not intend that property rights be traded among special interest and
government groups at whim, but are rather were to be protected by the Constitution against the grasp of radical
Greens and pandering politicians.
The high cost of busybodies:
Part II. The Constitution of the United States says that private property cannot be taken by the
government without just compensation. When the government destroys half the value of someone's property,
that is the same thing economically as taking half of that property.
U.N. now controls most of
Alabama. Only a handful of the people who gathered at the Birmingham Hilton on April 8, 2003,
knew that the objective of the meeting was to implement U.N. policy in Alabama. The meeting in Birmingham
was to satisfy the requirement to provide for public input to a plan, the outcome of which was decided
Property rights guaranteed by
Constitution: Today people all over our country are fighting for their Constitutional right to
own and use their property, as prescribed by our Bill of Rights. Over the past 15 years here in
Prince William County we have had several instances of Constitutional abuse, where a landowner was denied use
of his property due to relentless, local, no-growth activists and "influenced" government action.
How the Western
Cattlemen Created Property Rights. As portrayed in countless stories and movies,
the industry involved anarchic conflict and rampant violence, a depiction untrue to historical
reality for the most part. As Terry L. Anderson and Peter J. Hill have written, "Unlike
the imagined wild and woolly region where the fastest gun or the biggest landowner exploited
everyone else, the real West was generally peaceful because of the stable institutional environment
that was carved out by the early pioneers."
The power of eminent domain: Razing
objections. Just before dawn on July 14, 1981, Detroit police hooked a tow
truck to the basement door of the Immaculate Conception Church on Trombly Street and tore
it off its hinges. They stormed in and arrested a dozen parishioners who were making a
desperate, doomed attempt to save part of their neighborhood from an assault by
an unbeatable alliance of big government, big business and big labor.
In Defense of Property Rights: The Right to
Property. Over the past fifteen years, Houstonians have witnessed nearly constant attempts to
place controls on the use of private property. These efforts have taken many
forms — restrictions on billboards, prohibitions on indoor smoking, the landscaping
ordinance, and zoning, to name a few — and have been led by many different people.
Chicago Uses Storm-Troop Tactics to
Trash Meigs. The City of Chicago used surprise and shock tactics
to start demolishing Meigs Field, the world-renowned airport serving downtown, ripping
up runway without notice in the dark of night under police guard.
far have property rights been eroded? What if "narcotics officers"
decide to climb a fence marked "no trespassing" and hike two miles onto private
property and seize marijuana found growing there and charge the property owner
with a drug felony, without any kind of warrant or other probable cause?
America is a police
state. We actually had a U.S. senator introduce legislation that, if it had become law, would have
permitted any local or federal law enforcement officer to seize your cash if he happened to find you carrying
more than 10 grand in an airport, bus station, interstate highway or most other public places.
No arrest, no questions, no charges … just take the money. The legislation failed, but
police agencies seize cash from hapless citizens just the same.
Costco's Corporate Welfare: Tracking
published reports on the abuse of eminent domain, one finds Costco is the leading beneficiary of this kind of
corporate welfare, having taken government-confiscated land three times more often then its next rival.
Monuments Challenged in Court: Years after President Clinton enraged western land rights groups by
designating millions of acres of land as national monuments in areas in the West, two groups are taking their
constitutional challenge to the next level.
House green lights major enviro
bill: Henry Lamb suggested that the bill would be better named the "Screw-the-Landowner Act of
2001," and observed: "It is one of several proposals to provide tax dollars and authorization to convert even
more of the rapidly diminishing private property in America to government inventories.
Property Rights Loss Invites Anarchy:
Today we are witnessing corrupt courts that toss aside election laws, that take over whole school systems and
then demand taxes be imposed to implement their rulings, a function of legislatures and local communities.
It's time for new owners: America
was built on the principle of free enterprise, which begins with private ownership - of land and
resources. Nearly half of America is now owned by the government - federal, state, and local.
How can free enterprise exist if government owns the land and resources?
Summit: "Historic Milestone" or "Big Circus"? Ironically, the 60,000 people attending
the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development are projected to create the same amount of pollution during the
ten days of the summit as nearly half a million Africans do during the course of an entire year.
property-grab programs: The Santa Barbara coast is being gobbled up
by what has become known as the "Lynn Scarlett" National Park. The Department of
Interior has designated 215,000 acres of prime real estate as a national park — whether
or not the local residents want it.
"Unnecessary Attention" from the
Federal Bulldozer: Having made housing unaffordable for many people, government now provides a
relative handful of people with housing that is almost as affordable as it would be if the government had left
"Open Space" = Housing
Ban: What are called open space laws could more honestly be called "housing bans." But that
would expose the hypocrisy of those open space advocates who also proclaim their desire to see more
End Eminent Domain Abuse: Most people
would be shocked to discover that governments across the nation are taking individual's homes, only to transfer
that property to a favored business or neighbor. Or that businesses are often being condemned, just so
that another business can take the property and make a larger profit. Yet in the last few years, that's
exactly what's been going on. Local governments in particular have taken private homes and businesses to
replace them with other privately owned businesses, malls, industrial developments, and upscale housing.
Suit filed after cops confiscate
motor home: A California man has filed suit in U.S. district court in Detroit after police from
Royal Oak, Mich., confiscated his motor home because it allegedly bore "obscene" pro-life messages.
Individual Rights & the Supreme Court: It
is the Supreme Court's fundamental task to ensure for all Americans that the government's exercise of its powers
remains wedded solely to the principle that animates the Constitution—the doctrine of individual
rights. Yet without a consistent understanding of the principle of individual rights, the Supreme Court
(and the lower courts) are rudderless in their interpretation of the Constitution.
Is Big Brother Moving In? Are Our
Property Rights Secure? In a nutshell, after eight years of litigation, this is the outcome of my
case: Government can take your property, damage your property, bankrupt you and devastate your life
without fear of liability or of having to pay damages. All a governmental entity has to do is say, "Oh,
your honor, we just made a mistake" - even if it is totally illegal - and not have to pay a cent.
How to talk about property rights:
Why protecting property rights benefits all Americans. The federal government now owns 30 percent of
America's land, with even higher percentages in the West (for instance, 61 percent of Idaho), and is using
regulatory takings with increasing frequency to enhance its effective control over even more extensive tracts.
Jersey gym owners who refused to close say state 'seized' all their legal defense funds. The co-owner of a New
Jersey gym who refused to remain closed through COVID-19 lockdowns enacted and prolonged for months by Democratic
Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday state officials have "seized" the business' legal defense funds. "Moments ago
@GovMurphy and his cronies seized 100% of @TheAtilisGym legal defense money ($173,613.60) in the middle of our appeals
process — effectively and intentionally interfering with our right to council. If you think that's gonna
make us stand down, you're delusional," Ian Smith, co-owner of the Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, N.J., wrote on Twitter.
Amash Introduces Bill To End Civil Asset Forfeiture Nationwide. Rep. Justin Amash (L-Mich.) on Thursday
introduced a bill to end civil asset forfeiture, which allows the government to take property from someone without ever
charging them with a crime. Law enforcement on the local, state, and federal levels can seize assets if they were
thought to be used in connection with illegal activity. That's often based solely on suspicion, though. Many
people never receive their items back, even if they were acquitted or never charged in the first place. Since 2000,
state and local governments have robbed people of more than $68 billion. Police often deposit those sums into slush
funds for their departments. What's more, the property seized doesn't necessarily have to have been used by the alleged
criminal in question. Such was the case with Kevin McBride, who had his Jeep taken by police in Tucson, Arizona, after
his girlfriend allegedly used it to sell $25 worth of weed to an undercover cop.
Security Seized $2 Billion in Cash From Travelers at U.S. Airports. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and
other Department of Homeland Security agents seized more than $2 billion in cash from travelers in U.S. airports between 2000
and 2016, according to a new report by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm. The
institute's report is the first to comprehensively analyze the use of civil asset forfeiture by federal law enforcement in
airports, where multiple news investigations have revealed horror stories of passengers having their money taken even though
they weren't ever charged with a crime. Take a case that Reason covered: Rustem Kazazi, a U.S. citizen who
tried in 2018 to get on a plane to return to his native Albania from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Kazazi
had roughly $58,000 in cash in his luggage, money he said he was taking to repair a house he owned and possibly to buy
another. Kazazi was strip-searched by CBP agents, who also seized his life savings. The agency claimed the cash
was "involved in a smuggling/drug trafficking/money laundering operation," despite there being no proof of that.
Turns to Supreme Court to Get Her Guns Back. In 2013, Lori Rodriguez called San Jose police to her home because
her husband was having a mental health crisis and making violent threats. Seven years later, she is petitioning the
Supreme Court to force the city to return her guns. "It's not right. I shouldn't have to do this to get back
what's mine," Rodriguez told the Washington Free Beacon. "They violated several of my constitutional rights."
Rodriguez claims police ordered her to open the couple's gun safe so they could seize all of the weapons in the home after
her husband was detained for making threats that the city says included "shooting up schools." Cops seized not only her
husband's weapons but also the guns that were personally registered to Rodriguez. The city has repeatedly rebuffed her
requests to return her property.
designed to clamp down on property seizures in Arizona advances. Arizona lawmakers are moving to erect new
hurdles to protect individuals from having their property seized by the state. SB 1556 would end the ability of
prosecutors to be able to take property simply by convincing a judge that it is connected to criminal activity. Instead,
they would have to actually first convict someone of a crime. The 6-4 vote Wednesday [5/20/2020] by the House Judiciary
Committee came over the objections of prosecutors who argued that it would impair their ability to protect Arizonans from criminal
activity. But Sen. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, who crafted the change, said their real objection is that the current
law allows prosecutors — and the police agencies involved in the case — to keep what they seize.
Panic Buying Reminds Us 'Price Gouging' Is Good. One of the most absurd and infuriating stories that
illustrates how foolish it is to crack down on entrepreneurship comes from 2005's Hurricane Katrina disaster. When John
Shepperson saw many had lost power from the storm and needed generators to restore electricity to their homes, he was
inspired. The Kentucky resident bought 19 generators, rented a truck, and drove "600 miles to a part of Mississippi
that had no electricity," John Stossel reported. While he could have probably charged more, he offered to sell the
generators for twice what he paid for them. "People were eager to buy," says Stossel. "But Mississippi police
said that was illegal." So Shepperson was arrested for the crime of selling a legal good to willing buyers. Who,
then, benefited from Mississippi's anti-price gouging law? Not those who needed power. The police confiscated
Shepperson's generators, said economist Mark J. Perry, and they "never made it to consumers with urgent needs who desperately
wanted to buy them."
executive order allows California to commandeer hotels, motels to house coronavirus patients. Gov. Gavin
Newsom, the California Democrat, released an executive order on Thursday [3/12/2020] that includes the authority for
Sacramento to take over hotels and motels for medical use for coronavirus patients, in a move he said will help the state of
40 million prepare for any widespread outbreak. Some patients in the state have already been moved to hotels. The
Desert Sun reported that a 120-room hotel in San Carlos, which is near San Francisco, has been already tapped to house
passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship. The first-term governor told reporters that besides hotels and motels,
state officials are also scouting for potential lodging in "mothballed" facilities and state parks. The executive
order, according to the report, has been designed to allow the state's Health and Human Services Agency and the Office of
Emergency Services to commandeer private property for coronavirus treatment.
Cops Used Federal Loophole To Seize $2.6 Million From Drivers Who They Never Charged With Crimes. A new report
uncovers a shocking civil asset forfeiture practice that allowed Missouri police to seize at least $2.6 million during
traffic stops in a single year. As part of a larger series on national asset forfeiture cases organized by the Pulitzer
Center, St. Louis Public Radio reported that St. Charles County law enforcement coerced at least 39
unsuspecting motorists into signing over their assets in 2018. According to the report, officers would lie in wait for
a car committing a minor traffic violation. Upon seeing the minor violation, officers would then pull the car over,
question the motorist, and then direct them to a private towing lot owned by Superior Towing. While in the lot, officers
would ask more questions and search the vehicle, all in the hopes of finding large amounts of cash or connections to drugs.
Police Fantasy. Asset-forfeiture laws give police sweeping arbitrary power over Americans' wallets, cars, and
homes. Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher told the Supreme Court in 2018 that the government is entitled to
confiscate cars that exceed speed limits by 5 miles per hour — a standard that would justify seizing most
vehicles. Between 2001 and 2014, lawmen seized more than $2.5 billion in cash from 60,000 travelers on the nation's
highways — with no criminal charges in the vast majority of cases, the Washington Post reported.
Police have been trained to confiscate private property of drivers by absurdly claiming that "trash on the floor of a
vehicle, abundant energy drinks, or air fresheners hanging from rearview mirrors" are signs of criminal activity.
Admin. Prepares Court Filings to Seize Private Land in Texas for Border Wall: Report. The Trump
administration is preparing to submit court filings as early as next week as a necessary step toward seizing private land in
Texas for its wall on the border with Mexico, NBC reported Thursday. Administration officials still haven't said how
much the government will compensate affected landowners. "I still think we're on track to get the land we need for 450
miles" of border wall, Acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan told reporters on Thursday
The Editor says...
If you own land that directly abuts the international border, and there is not a wall in place already,
your land is of very little value: Perhaps less than zero. Sorry about the property seizure, but the addition of
a wall or fence will increase the value of the remainder of your land. Maybe you can write off the value of the seized acreage.
Attack. One of the greatest dangers at this time is the unlawful seizure of property through taxation and other
legislation. Bernie Sanders's promise to tax stock market transactions for the sake of paying off student loan debt and
offering free tuition in the future is precisely this sort of seizure. Sanders's proposal would confiscate an estimated
$2.2 trillion over ten years, much of it from retirees and small investors. This massive transfer of funds from one
class of citizens to another, based entirely on political expediency, violates the Constitution's protections of equality and
its prohibition of unlawful seizure.
rail route took land from farmers. The money they're owed hasn't arrived. John Diepersloot squinted under
a bright Central Valley sun, pointing to the damage to his fruit orchard that came with the California bullet train. He
lost 70 acres of prime land. Rail contractors left mounds of rubble along his neat rows. Irrigation hoses are
askew. A sophisticated canopy system for a kiwi field, supported by massive steel cables, was torn down. But what
really irritates Diepersloot is the $250,000 that he paid out of his own pocket for relocating wells, removing trees,
building a road and other expenses.
Paul Stevens Is Still Trying To Defend the Kelo Debacle. John Paul Stevens has had it rough. In
2005, Stevens, then an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, authored one of the worst SCOTUS decisions of the past
50 years. Kelo v. City of New London let a local government bulldoze a working-class
neighborhood so that private developers would have a blank slate on which to build a luxury hotel, a conference center, and
various other upscale amenities. The city's goal was to erase that existing community via eminent domain and replace it
with a new commercial district that would (maybe? hopefully?) fill the local coffers with more abundant tax dollars.
Stevens, the poor soul, has been catching [flak] for this lousy ruling ever since. Kelo is "the most un-American
thing that can be done," declared Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California, an outspoken liberal.
City Tries To Steal an Elderly Man's House Over Uncut Grass. The city of Dunedin, Florida, wants to foreclose
on a private home because the owner, Jim Ficken, owes the city over $29,000 in fines. The crime for which he is
threatened with home loss? Having his lawn grass be too tall (over 10 inches) for a period of eight weeks last
summer. The city fined him $500 per day of violation, with no warning. Ficken was out of town at the time,
settling his mother's estate. Ficken hired a handyman to deal with his lawn while he tended to his dying mother and
then to her estate, but in a cruel twist, the handyman also died during the Fickens' ordeal, leaving the lawn uncut.
Times Barack Obama Abused His Power To Appease His Base. [#3] Federal land grabs: In an effort to cement
his environmental legacy, Obama used the final weeks of his presidency to create more federally protected national monuments
than any other president — expanding the amount of federally protected land and water by over 550 million
acres. This raised serious questions that he was abusing the Antiquities Act in order to impose extreme environmental
restrictions on public land. While any president has the authority to declare national monuments, the Antiquities Act
dictates that these monuments must be "confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the
objects to be protected." That is not what Obama did. Many of these declarations faced local opposition, but Obama
was far too concerned with his legacy to take into account the concerns of those impacted by his actions.
'parade of horribles' is here — will the justices revisit Kelo? America's founders enshrined
property rights in our Constitution, not just because they thought it would provide a strong blueprint for a free market but
because they saw ownership as an essential human right. Thus, the final draft of James Madison's Fifth Amendment has no
wiggle words or loopholes. It states unequivocally that private property shall not "be taken for public use, without
just compensation." And yet despite this clear guidance, courts are expanding what can be considered public use, steadily
eroding protections in takings law.
critical Supreme Court victory for property rights. With each of President Trump's appointments to the
judiciary, and especially to the Supreme Court, the activist Left has tried to scare Americans into believing that they are
creating judges and courts with no common sense or fairness. Nothing could be farther from the truth. And clear,
non-partisan evidence of this comes through every so often with a ruling that is both revolutionary in nature and broadly
agreed to by jurists from widely divergent political backgrounds. Last week, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that law
enforcement can no longer make grossly disproportionate seizures of property, even from people who owe money after being
convicted of crimes.
Revenue Addiction. The law of civil forfeiture allows police and prosecutors to seize and keep cash, cars,
homes, businesses and property of all kinds without ever criminally charging or convicting the owners. As originally
conceived, it was to be a deterrent by which law enforcement would transfer the ill-gotten gains of crime to the public
treasury. But, as so often happens with governmental power, it has transmuted over the years into a semi-criminal
operation in and of itself.
Court curbs power of government to impose heavy fines and seize property. In a unanimous decision, the Supreme
Court on Wednesday ruled to drastically curb the powers that states and cities have to levy fines and seize property, marking
the first time the court has applied the Constitution's ban on excessive fines at the state level. Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsburg, who returned to the court for the first time in almost two months after undergoing surgery for lung cancer, wrote
the majority opinion in the case involving an Indiana man who had his Land Rover seized after he was arrested for selling
$385 of heroin. "Protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history for
good reason: Such fines undermine other liberties," Ginsburg wrote. "They can be used, e.g., to retaliate against
or chill the speech of political enemies. They can also be employed, not in service of penal purposes, but as a source
jury rules government can seize Mongols motorcycle club's trademark. In a closely watched trial with possibly
far-reaching legal implications, a federal jury decided Friday that the notorious Mongols motorcycle club must forfeit the
logos worn by its members, finding in favor of prosecutors' novel claim that there is a direct link between the club's crimes
and its well-known, trademarked insignia. The jury's verdict Friday marked the end of the second phase of a trial
focusing on forfeiture of assets. In the first phase last month, the jury found the club, which was established in
Montebello in the 1970s, guilty of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering.
were acquitted of drug trafficking, but Uncle Sam wants to keep their property anyway. Jerry Shults and his
daughter, Amy Herrig, were recently acquitted of drug trafficking charges, but the government is not done with them
yet: It wants to take much of their money and property using controversial federal forfeiture laws. The father
and daughter team behind a vast retail network of synthetic marijuana products called spice is scheduled to go on trial for a
second time in Dallas in March. This go around, they will be trying to stop the government from taking their
considerable fortune, including an exotic fishing camp, airplanes and bank accounts worth millions.
set to seize 1,100 miles of coastline. The California Coastal Commission is set to empower local government to take
thousands of properties through eminent domain along 1,100 miles of coastline to prepare for sea level rise. Despite California
being battered by 4-8 inches of torrential rain and flooding from an El Niño weather cycle, E&E News reported that the
State of California in late January will authorize eminent domain authority for local jurisdictions to implement a "managed retreat"
policy that will allow taking and demolishing coastal homes and businesses. The California Coastal Commission circulated an
87-page "Draft Residential Adaptation Guidance" in March regarding how communities could proactively address sea level rise impacts
through Local Coastal Programs (LCPs). Although the CCC draft did not adopt specific retreat guidance, the California Special
Districts magazine expects that the CCC will predict a sea level rise of 2.5-5.5 feet and the elimination of 31-67 percent
of Southern California beaches by the year 2100.
The Editor says...
Do the California politicians really think there's an impending disaster resulting from rising sea levels?
(There isn't.) Or do they just want to own all
Twenty Things You
Probably Didn't Know about Kamala Harris. [#3] Harris also has been a strong advocate of civil asset forfeiture. She
supported a bill in California that would have allowed prosecutors to seize assets before initiating criminal proceedings — a power
now available only at the federal level — if there were a "substantial probability" they would eventually initiate such proceedings.
Besides cases involving violent crimes, the legislation allowed seizures in cases involving such crimes as bribery, gambling, and trafficking
endangered species. Harris endorsed the bill after then-attorney general Eric Holder sharply limited civil asset forfeiture among
De Blasio Threatens Landlords "We Will Take Your Buildings Away". Communist Mayor of New York City Bill De
Blasio plans to spread the news about his Progressive (communist) accomplishments during a country tour, and he might visit
Iowa. He has dreams of becoming president one day. In his sixth State of the City address, he presented himself
as the protector of the working man ready to steal from the evil rich to give to them. He will gladly seize the private
property of landlords he deems unworthy.
Seized And Sold Nearly 50,000 Cars Over Tickets Since 2011, Sticking Owners With Debt. According to a WBEZ
analysis of thousands of towing records and invoices, the city regularly pulls residents into a nexus of ticket-related debt
and car seizures that is stunning in its scope. In 2017 alone, Chicago booted more than 67,000 vehicles for unpaid
tickets. In about a third of those cases, the driver couldn't afford to remove the boot, and the vehicle was later
towed to a city impound lot. Of those 20,000 impounded cars, more than 8,000 ended up like Botello's: They were
sold off, with the owners receiving none of the sale proceeds. Instead, the city and its towing contractor pocketed
millions of dollars, while residents were left with ticket debt.
Judge rules in favor of
Portsmouth Toyota dealer, says city did not establish need in eminent domain case. A judge has ruled that
officials in Portsmouth have not established a sufficiently compelling need to take 4.6 acres of land from a local car
dealer. In September 2016, city councilors voted to take the land at Toyota of Portsmouth on Greenleaf Avenue to
preserve a 1968 sewer line that serves residents on Lois Street and a portion of Middle Road. A total of 31 homes
and a condominium association with more than 100 units use the sewer system. The following month, the city council
appropriated $345,000 to pay owner James Boyle for the property, based on an appraisal that the land was undevelopable,
despite his lawyer's objections it is worth 10 times more.
A big win for the little
guys. In a big win for the little people, Philadelphia last week agreed to rein in its civil-forfeiture program
and pay $3 million to innocents whose property it wrongly confiscated. Attorneys with the Institute for Justice sued in
2014 over policies that let law enforcement take property "suspected" of being tied to crime — even when the owner
clearly wasn't part of the crime. The lead plaintiffs were Markela and Chris Sourovelis, whose home was seized after
their son was busted for selling $40 worth of drugs outside it. Neither parent ever did anything wrong. In fact,
they were driving their son to a court-ordered rehab program the day the police took their home.
Will Dismantle Its Asset Forfeiture Program and Pay $3 Million to Victims. Four years after Philadelphia police
seized the home of Markela and Chris Sourovelis for a minor drug crime committed by their son, the city has agreed to almost
completely dismantle its controversial civil asset forfeiture program and pay $3 million to its victims. The Institute
for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, announced today that the city had agreed to a settlement in a federal
civil rights class-action lawsuit challenging its forfeiture program. "For too long, Philadelphia treated its citizens
like ATMs, ensnaring thousands of people in a system designed to strip people of their property and their rights," Darpana
Sheth, a senior attorney at the institute, said in a press release. "No more. Today's groundbreaking agreement
will end years of abuse and create a fund to compensate innocent owners."
Supreme Court Closes Warrant Loophole, Slams U.S. Supreme Court For Weakening Fourth Amendment. The Iowa
Supreme Court ruled that impounding a car and conducting an inventory search without a warrant violated the Iowa
Constitution's protection against "unreasonable searches and seizures." Although the Iowa Constitution's provision
is similarly worded to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Iowa Supreme Court decided to "stake out higher
constitutional ground" and "reach results different from current United States Supreme Court precedent under parallel
provisions." [...] Not only is this decision a victory for private property and civil liberties, the case is a potent
reminder for how state constitutions can better protect individual rights when federal courts refuse to do so.
Department Didn't Charge Him With a Crime. It's Going to Take $39,000 from Him Anyway. In order to get
back any of the money that the New Hampshire State Police took from him, Edward Phipps has agreed to let federal prosecutors
keep most of it, even though he has not been charged with any crimes. The cops took the cash during a traffic stop in
2016. Phipps wasn't even in the car at the time. The police pulled the driver over for tailgating and for going one
whole mile per hour over the speed limit. A search turned up a bag full of $46,000 cash in the trunk. Police then
brought in a drug-sniffing dog, which came up empty. Though they have presented no evidence of any criminal act, police
took the money and federal prosecutors declared their intent to force the forfeiture of the funds, so they could keep
it. Phipps came forward in July 2017 to indicate that the cash was his, and he said it was obtained legally.
Judge Breaks Up Albuquerque's Car Theft Ring. U.S. District Judge James Browning, in a decision issued on
Monday [7/30/2018], said those features make Albuquerque's forfeiture ordinance inconsistent with the constitutional
guarantee of due process. "The City of Albuquerque has an unconstitutional institutional incentive to prosecute
forfeiture cases," he writes, "because, in practice, the forfeiture program sets its own budget and can spend, without
meaningful oversight, all of the excess funds it raises from previous years." Furthermore, the program "violates
procedural due process, because owners have to prove that their cars are not subject to civil forfeiture."
Buys $70K Dodge Charger Hellcat With Forfeiture Funds. Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway thinks his
department's $70,000, 707-horsepower Dodge Charger Hellcat (black with tinted windows, natch) is a perfectly normal policing
tool to buy with federal asset forfeiture funds. The U.S. Department of Justice disagrees. The Justice Department
sent a letter last week demanding that the Georgia county reimburse it for the "extravagant" muscle car, which was purchased
with funds from the Equitable Sharing Program — a federal program that funnels hundreds of millions of dollars a
year in asset forfeiture revenues to local and state police departments.
Property of Close to 1,000 People in Michigan — Without Ever Convicting Them of Crimes. Close to
1,000 people in Michigan had their property seized by police or government officials last year even though they were neither
convicted nor sometimes even charged with committing a crime. That's the bad news. The good news is that we have
this information at all. In 2015 Michigan passed legislation that mandated local law enforcement agencies report more
information to the state about the extent of their seizures. The Department of State Police just released its first
report that encompassed all agencies for a full calendar year. Law enforcement agencies across the state seized more
than $13 million in cash and property in 2017. And while State Police Director Kriste Etue claims in the report's
introduction that all those seized assets were "amassed by drug traffickers," that's not really what the numbers show.
Return $20K in Glittery Cash Illegally Seized from Stripper. The Miami-Dade Police Department must return
nearly $20,000 in cash to a woman after prosecutors admitted that officers illegally searched her car and seized several
lawfully owned guns. The Miami Herald reports that the department will also pay $3,000 in legal fees to
Lizmixell Batista, a dancer at the local Cheetah Gentleman's Club, and her husband, Ras Cates. The case is textbook
example of how asset forfeiture laws and the drug war incentivize constitutional violations and bad police work.
and Walker Want to Seize Wisconsin Homes to Build a Foxconn Plant. Powerful forces — including
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R), the Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn, and President Donald Trump — have
aligned, to turn more than 1,000 acres of Wisconsin farmland and family homes into an LCD screen manufacturing facility.
Reason visited the village of Mt. Pleasant to speak with homeowners facing the threat of eminent domain, and the
local government officials responsible for acquiring the land on behalf of Foxconn, which is receiving $4.5 billion in
subsidies and tax breaks. The project was sold to the public with a promise of 13,000 jobs and billions in additional
tax revenue. To assemble land for the project, local officials have already declared entire neighborhoods to be
"blighted," with the goal of seizing homes with eminent domain, a legal term that typically describes the process of taking
property from a private owner to facilitate a public use.
"Little Pink House" Was Her Castle Until The Government Said It Wasn't. If Little Pink House, a new
movie starring Catherine Keener and directed by Courtney Balaker, were the usual Hollywood tale of humble citizens abused by
a mighty corporation and its political allies, you could expect it to find its way to a happy ending, with the little guys
prevailing and their powerful antagonists getting their comeuppance. Little Pink House isn't that kind of film.
It recounts the true story of Susette Kelo (played by Keener) and her working-class neighbors in the Fort Trumbull
neighborhood of New London, Conn., whose homes were seized by eminent domain to clear the way for an upscale private
development at the behest of Pfizer, the Big Pharma colossus. The tiny band of homeowners, represented by idealistic
lawyers from the Institute for Justice, fought their eviction all the way to the Supreme Court — and lost.
In one of the most infamous decisions in its history, the court ruled, 5-4, that property owners can be stripped of their
land whenever the government decides that a wealthier owner would put it to more lucrative use.
In New York, Blight
Is Whatever Officials Say It Is. Eminent domain abuse has reared its head in East Harlem. New York City
officials plan to seize a family-owned dry cleaning business, raze the buildings, and hand the forcibly vacated land to a
private developer. City officials insist that the property is "blighted," the condition of severe disrepair required to
trigger a taking under state eminent domain law. But as Damon Bae, whose parents opened Fancy Cleaners after
immigrating from Korea in 1981, told the New York Daily News, "the only 'blight' was in the [city-owned] vacant lots the city
allowed to sit empty" nearby. In other words, the local government created the very conditions it is now using as a
pretext for seizing the property. Unfortunately for the Baes and others like them, the U.S. Supreme Court
rubber-stamped a similar land grab in 2005's Kelo v. City of New London decision.
the government less larcenous. Civil forfeiture is the power to seize property suspected of being produced by, or
involved in, crime. In this Through the Looking Glass, guilty-until-proven-innocent inversion, the property's owners bear
the burden of proving that they were not involved in such activity, which can be a costly and protracted process as persons must hire
lawyers and do battle with a government wielding unlimited resources. Law enforcement agencies get to keep the profits from
forfeited property, which gives them an incentive to do what too many of them do — abuse the process. But, then, the
process — punishment before a crime is proven — is inherently abusive.
police keep 94 percent of seized cash, report says. Data presented to the Baltimore City Council Tuesday
[4/3/2018] revealed that over a period of five years police seized more than $10 million from drug and gambling
investigations but only returned $643,000, The Baltimore Sun reported. The data was revealed after a Baltimore
councilman called for "a full accounting of all seized guns, drugs, dirt bikes, and cash over the last five years."
Senate Considers Curtailing Civil Asset Forfeiture. The people's representatives in the Alabama State Legislature are
considering curtailing the power of the state's law enforcement officers from seizing the property (including the money) of
individuals who have not been convicted of any crime. Some sheriffs and other police agencies do not support this
proposal, however. In fact, two law-enforcement officials are so adamant that lawmakers not revoke this power that they
have penned an op-ed in opposition to the bill, and in that article they are remarkably frank about how fruitful the civil asset
forfeiture policy has been for cops in the Heart of Dixie. Just how profitable has the program been in Alabama? A
report published earlier this year revealed that in 2015, Alabama law enforcement seized nearly $2.2 million! The
data was gathered from 14 of the state's 67 counties. It isn't unexpected, then, that police officials do not want
that gravy train derailed. In their op-ed published on February 12 on AL.com, Brian McVeigh, Calhoun County district
attorney and president of the Alabama District Attorneys Association, and Dave Sutton, sheriff of Coffee County and president of
the Alabama Sheriffs Association, vigorously pleaded for protection of their power to seize people's property without due process.
to Seize Clothing, Jewelry From 'Youths' Who Can't Explain How They Got It. Have you ever looked at how people
dress and wondered how they afford it? Maybe they borrow them from wealthier friends, or know how to score on
eBay. Or maybe they are criminals. Authorities in Rotterdam, Holland, are now going to always go with
"criminals" — and may seize your outfit right there in the street. [...] We've had civil asset forfeiture for
decades in this country, and it's allowed police to seize a lot of private property from law-abiding people. It's also
done nothing to deter criminals. In fact, it's a good way to make young people resent police on sight.
Don't Register Anything.
Like too many jurisdictions, Hawaii requires gun owners to register their firearms. Also like an excess of other
control-freaky places, the state requires medical marijuana users to register themselves with the state Department of
Health. As it turns out, those who dutifully abide by both requirements find themselves in trouble. Hawaii may
allow the use of marijuana for medicinal uses, and even require registration of its users, but the state continues to regard
the practice as a violation of federal law.
issue 4,000 orders to seize guns from people who failed background checks. Federal authorities sought to take
back guns from thousands of people the background check system should have blocked from buying weapons because they had
criminal records, mental health issues or other problems that would disqualify them. A USA TODAY review found that the
FBI issued more than 4,000 requests last year for agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives to
retrieve guns from prohibited buyers. It's the largest number of such retrieval requests in 10 years, according
to FBI records [...]
Senators Push To Defund Jeff
Sessions' Civil Asset Forfeiture Expansion. Asset forfeiture — a practice that allows police to seize property suspected of
being connected to criminal activity, even when the owner is not charged with a crime — has come under criticism in recent years from
lawmakers and advocacy groups across the political spectrum. Police groups and prosecutors, as well as law-and-order conservatives like
[Attorney General Jeff] Sessions, argue it is an essential tool to disrupt organized crime by cutting off illicit proceeds. Civil
liberties advocates say it leaves far too few protections for property owners and creates perverse profit incentives for law enforcement.
asset forfeiture gone too far? Truck seizure case sparks outrage, a call for change. Two years ago,
Gerardo Serano — an American citizen, Kentucky farmer and a one-time GOP Kentucky statehouse
candidate — was driving his brand new, $60,000 Ford F-250 pick-up truck to visit relatives in Mexico, snapping
pictures along the way, when Customs and Border Patrol agents halted him at the border, demanded his cell phone, and asked
him why he was taking pictures. "I just wanted the opening of the bridge. I was gonna take the opening of the
bridge, the entrance of the bridge. That's all I wanted to do," Serano told Fox News. As a self-proclaimed
student of the Constitution, Serano said he knew his rights, and protested to Customs and Border Patrol agents vehemently
when they asked him to unlock his phone. [...] He was detained, but never arrested, nor charged, nor tried, nor convicted.
However, agents did seize his prized new truck. Two years since its seizure, they have yet to give it back.
welcomes restoration of asset forfeiture: "I love that program". Attorney General Jeff Sessions welcomed
the restoration of the practice of asset forfeiture Friday [9/1/2017] in a speech at a law enforcement conference in
Alabama. "I love that program," Sessions said. "We had so much fun doing that, taking drug dealers' money and
passing it out to people trying to put drug dealers in jail. What's wrong with that?" Sessions, reviewing some of
the steps the DOJ has taken recently under his watch, went off script from his prepared remarks to express his excitement
about the restoration of the controversial practice.
Corrupts Justice. In Ohio during the 1920s, people caught with "intoxicating liquors" could be tried by rural
mayors, who were paid for each conviction and authorized to impose fines that were split between the village and the
state. Four decades later, mayor's courts in Ohio were handling traffic cases, which did not reward the mayors directly
but generated substantial income for their villages. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, both of these arrangements
violated the right to due process, since the judges had a financial incentive to find people guilty. Civil asset
forfeiture creates a similar problem, encouraging police and prosecutors to take property from innocent owners and turn a
deaf ear to their objections. That is what happened to Rhonda Cox, whose pickup truck was seized in 2013 by Pinal
County, Arizona, sheriff's deputies when they arrested her son for installing stolen parts in it.
Guilty Until Proven
Innocent. The United States Government seized more from private citizens than burglars in 2014. Current federal
laws regarding civil asset forfeiture are overstepping private property rights under the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution.
Under the Fifth Amendment it is the obligation of government to provide evidence against private individuals whereas current civil
asset forfeiture laws require private citizens to prove innocence. Civil Asset Forfeiture, where government confiscation is
acceptable if it's in the name of protecting the United States against drug lords by taking away private property. It is time
for the federal Department of Justice to catch up with states like New Mexico where the burden of proof is on the state to provide
the evidence that the seized property is associated with drug sales, rather than putting the burden on the citizen to provide evidence
that their property is NOT associated with the purchase of drugs. In the fight against justice reform Jeff Sessions, fortunately,
appears to be a lone supporter of Civil Asset Forfeiture at the Dept of Justice.
Supreme Court Upholds Abusive Civil Forfeiture Law, Allows Police to Keep $201,000 in Cash from Legal Home Sale with No Proof
of Criminal Activity. In refusing to hear a challenge to Texas' asset forfeiture law, the U.S. Supreme Court is
allowing Texas police to keep $201,000 in cash primarily on the basis that the seized cash — the proceeds of a
home sale — was being transported on a highway associated with illegal drug trade, despite any proof of illegal
activity by the owner. Asset forfeiture laws, which have come under intense scrutiny and criticism in recent years,
allow the police to seize property "suspected" of being connected to criminal activity without having to prove the owner of
the property is guilty of a criminal offense. Lisa Leonard, the owner of the $201,000, had asked the U.S. Supreme Court
to compel Texas to return her money, given that she was innocent of any crime. In a written opinion that denounced the
profit incentives that drive asset forfeiture schemes, Justice Clarence Thomas concluded, "This system — where
police can seize property with limited judicial oversight and retain it for their own use — has led to egregious
and well-chronicled abuses."
for Profit: Jeff Sessions & Co.'s Thinly Veiled Plot to Rob Us Blind. [Scroll down] Most recently,
under the guise of "fighting crime," [Jeff] Sessions gave police the green light to rob, pilfer, steal, thieve, swipe,
purloin, filch and liberate American taxpayers of even more of their hard-earned valuables (especially if it happens to be
significant amounts of cash) using any means, fair or foul. In this case, the foul method favored by Sessions & Co. is
civil asset forfeiture, which allows police and prosecutors to "seize your car or other property, sell it and use the
proceeds to fund agency budgets — all without so much as charging you with a crime." Under a federal equitable
sharing program, police turn asset forfeiture cases over to federal agents who process seizures and then return 80% of the
proceeds to the police. (In Michigan, police actually get to keep up to 100% of forfeited property.)
immigrant couple was forced to close their business after the IRS seized and sold their property in a day. Tony
and Somnuek Thangsongcharoen immigrated to the U.S. from Thailand in 1983 and opened Mii's Bridal and Tuxedo. But after
over 30 years in business, their business is gone. [...] The IRS has been found violating the law when it comes to seizures
in the past, and now the owner's of Mii's are the latest to accuse the agency of an improper and reckless seizure and sale of
their property in a recently filed lawsuit against the U.S.
New DOJ Guidelines On Asset Forfeiture Are Obscene. The Justice Department's new guidelines on civil asset
forfeiture are an obscenity to our founders and the Constitution they wrote. Attorney General Jeff Sessions released
the directive today he claims will actually help make sure criminals can't keep their ill-gotten gains, but are really just
an affront to the Fourth Amendment. The key factor in the new guidelines is that the federal government no longer has
to pay attention to state and local laws which make it harder for police to seize assets without a criminal conviction.
One of the few things Attorney General Eric Holder got right during his tenure was telling federal agencies they had to
follow state law with the equitable-sharing program. Sessions is undoing this policy.
Announces Justice Department Will Increase Asset Forfeiture. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the
Justice Department will issue new directives to increase the federal govenment's use of civil asset forfeiture, a
controversial practice that allows law enforcement to seize property from suspected criminals without charging them with a
crime. Speaking at a National District Attorneys Association conference in Minneapolis Monday [7/17/2017], Sessions said
state and local law enforcement could expect changes from U.S. Attorneys in several areas: increased prosecution of gun crimes,
immigration offenses, gang activity, and prescription drug abuse, as well as increased asset seizure by the federal government.
shuts down mom and pop dressmaker, sells dresses within hours. The unmarked vehicles arrived in the
morning. More than 20 armed agents poured out. Hours later, Mii's Bridal & Tuxedo was out of business after
serving customers for decades. Its entire inventory of wedding gowns and dresses as well as sewing machines and other
equipment were sold at auction. The hastily-called sale held inside the store netted the IRS about $17,000 —
not enough to cover the roughly $31,400 in tax debt alleged, court records show. The balance is now likely unrecoverable.
Asset Forfeiture: Where Due Process Goes to Die. Current asset-forfeiture practice, like much that is
wrong with U.S. law enforcement, has its roots in the so-called war on drugs. The practice of seizing assets is
ancient: It dates back at least to 17th-century maritime law, under which ships illegally transporting goods would be
seized, along with the contraband inside. Asset forfeiture was used against bootleggers during Prohibition, but it
really came into its own in the Reagan era, when the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 empowered federal and local
law-enforcement agencies to take property from drug kingpins for their own use. The sudden, unlikely inventory of
exotic cars and yachts possessed by law-enforcement agencies inspired that great cultural document of the 1980s: Miami
Vice. Asset forfeiture creates an obvious conflict of interest for law-enforcement agencies: Because the
proceeds go into their budgets, they have a vested interest in maximizing the use of forfeiture in their jurisdictions.
You will be less than surprised to learn that this has produced some serious abuses, and the law-enforcement tool intended to
be used against centimillionaire cartel bosses inevitably ends up being used to harass — and loot —
nobodies in East Funky. That is the nature of such innovations in government. It is why the city won't fix your
potholes but the revenue-producing red-light camera is never on the fritz for long.
IRS Can Seize Your Money Based on a Hunch. This Bill Would Bring That to an End. The federal government
currently wields a tremendous amount of power over the citizens of the United States, far more than the Founders
intended. One manifestation of federal overreach is civil asset forfeiture. This practice allows the federal
government to confiscate the wealth of its citizens upon the mere suspicion of wrongdoing. The IRS, not content with
expropriating the wealth of its citizens on April 15 every year, has now taken up the practice of seizing funds that
have been involved in perfectly legal transactions on the basis of a hunch.
The DEA's Warrantless
Cash Grab. Do you want to know the dirty secret about how the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) confiscates
suspected drug traffickers' money? The truth is, it's not hard: Agents just go to an airport and wait for cash to
drop into their laps. A March report by the Justice Department's inspector general (I.G.) found the DEA seized a
whopping $4 billion in cash over the past decade using civil asset forfeiture, mostly from airports, train stations, and bus
terminals. Contrary to DEA rhetoric, these seizures have little to do with ongoing criminal investigations and
everything to do with bringing in money. In 81 percent of the cases the I.G. reviewed, there were no accompanying
Meet the Texas Lawmaker Fighting Trump
on Civil Asset Forfeiture. When the White House hosted a meeting of sheriffs from across the country last February, President Donald
Trump joked about destroying the career of a Texas state senator who supported reforms to civil asset forfeiture laws — a controversial practice
where police can seize cash and property of people suspected — but in most cases never convicted or charged with a crime. Though Trump's
comments were meant to support police, they've had the opposite of their intended impact — it's re-energized the push for reform. Texas
state senator Konni Burton was one of many local lawmakers outraged by Trump's comments.
Budget Ramps Up Funding for Eminent Domain' Land Acquisition' in Potential Effort to Clear Way for Border Wall.
Tuesday's Department of Justice budget proposal asks Congress for $1.8 million to "meet litigation, acquisition, and
appraisal demands during the construction along the border between Mexico and the United States." The money will be used
to devote 20 new staff members, including 12 attorneys, to the Environmental and Natural Resources Division's Land Acquisition
Section (LAS). This small section of the DOJ handles litigation that arises when the federal government uses its "eminent
domain" power to seize land for public projects.
Will Border Wall Divide the Right
Over Eminent Domain? President Trump's border wall could potentially drive a wedge into the GOP as building the
structure would require acquiring private property including through eminent domain, which flies in the face of traditional
conservative support for property rights. Conservative property owners along the border in Texas oppose the wall,
according to the South Texas Property Rights Association, which represents more than 600 landowners.
forfeiture has ruined countless lives. It's long overdue for reform. According to a report by the Institute for Justice,
a public interest law firm, the Justice Department's Assets Forfeiture Fund skyrocketed from just under $94 million to more than
$4.5 billion between 1986 and 2014. State and local law enforcement can get a cut of the action, too, thanks to a program that
Congress also created in the 1980s. Under "equitable sharing," police and prosecutors can bypass state laws and collaborate with a
federal agency to forfeit property under federal law. If successful, local and state agencies can even receive up to 80 percent
of the proceeds.
Burglars. [Scroll down] So, exactly what "enforcement" is the inspector general talking about?
Civil asset forfeiture. You know, that fancy, legalistic three-word phrase for stealing. Without investigating
the source of the money or even harboring minimal suspicion, and obviously without any charge being leveled, much less a
conviction, the IRS swoops in and seizes the money in a business's bank account. "IRS procedures dictate that the
overall purpose of its civil forfeiture program is to disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises," notes the TIGTA.
Nonetheless, the report adds, "Most people impacted by the program did not appear to be criminal enterprises engaged in other
alleged illegal activity; rather, they were legal businesses such as jewelry stores, restaurant owners, gas station owners,
scrap metal dealers, and others." Why is the IRS going after hardworking business owners rather than criminals?
Simple. It's easier to rob unsuspecting innocents than devious crooks.
The Other Side
of Legalized Theft. During a meeting with county sheriffs in February, Donald Trump was puzzled by criticism of civil
asset forfeiture, which all the cops in the room viewed as an indispensable and unobjectionable law enforcement tool. "Do you
even understand the other side of it?" the president asked. "No," one sheriff said, and that was that. [...] Civil forfeiture
lets the government confiscate property allegedly linked to crime without bringing charges against the owner. Since law
enforcement agencies receive most or all of the proceeds from the forfeitures they initiate, they have a strong financial incentive
to loot first and ask questions never, which explains why those sheriffs were not eager to enlighten the president about the
downside of such legalized theft.
Family Wins Lawsuit, Forcing California DOJ to Return 500 Guns. A Clovis family won a court case against the California
Department of Justice that forces the state agency to return 500 guns it had confiscated from Albert Sheakalee. The CA DOJ raided
Sheakalee's house in 2015, alleging he was listed in the state's Armed Prohibited Persons (APPS) database. Sheakalee's attorney
won the case by arguing that the CA DOJ had not notified Sheakalee that he was on the APPS. Moreover, his attorney, Mark Coleman,
stated that "the justice department broke a promise to Sheakalee to keep the raid confidential until a court hearing determined whether
he was mentally fit to own guns." According to the Fresno Bee, Sheakalee was arrested, but he "had no prior criminal
history." [...] No charges were ever brought against Sheakelee; nonetheless, the CA DOJ held onto the guns.
Seized 541 Guns From This Man With No Charges Filed, but He Fought and Got Them All Back!. A California Federal
Firearms License holder who had his entire firearms collection of 541 guns seized with no charges filed against him, has had
his guns returned. Albert Sheakalee, who lives in the Clovis area, went through mental health treatment in 2014. He
has had a clean criminal record all of his life and owns a retirement home. He is a retired budget director of Fresno
Community Hospital, and has held a FFL for more than two decades. However, under the Obama administration, the Justice
Department went after his guns without any charges or guilt of any crime being obtained, a clear violation of the Fifth
Amendments protections that he not be deprived of his rights (specifically the right to keep and bear arms). A press
release at the time by then-state Attorney General, now Senator Kamala Harris barred him from owning guns and brought about a
12-hour raid on his home by the Bureau of Firearms Special Agents on November 12, 2015. He was subsequently arrested
for allegedly possessing illegal firearms.
$4 Billion From People Since 2007. Most Were Never Charged with a Crime. A report by the Justice Department Inspector General
released Wednesday [3/29/2017] found that the DEA's gargantuan amount of cash seizures often didn't relate to any ongoing criminal investigations,
and 82 percent of seizures it reviewed ended up being settled administratively — that is, without any judicial review — raising
civil liberties concerns. In total, the Inspector General reports the DEA seized $4.15 billion in cash since 2007, accounting
for 80 percent of all Justice Department cash seizures. Those figures do not include other property, such as cars and
electronics, which are favorite targets for seizure by law enforcement.
Seize Control of Civil Asset Forfeiture. Last week, in refusing to consider a civil asset forfeiture case on
procedural grounds, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas cast doubt that these practices could stand up constitutionally or
be sustained by historical practice. We share his doubt. Civil asset forfeiture is a procedure where state and
federal government actors seize property from private citizens under the suspicion that the property is somehow involved with
a crime. Those citizens are rarely charged or convicted of criminal behavior, but the property is brought into a civil
court of law, wherein the government must meet what is usually a low burden to "prove" that property's guilt.
Monumental Mistake. In December, in the final weeks of his presidency, President Obama single-handedly created
the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah, despite opposition from the state's governor, its
congressional delegation, and the local elected officials that represent the area. Obama did so using his executive
powers under the 1906 Antiquities Act, a Progressive Era law that allows presidents to unilaterally declare federal land off
limits to most forms of development. The local backlash was fierce. Representative Jason Chaffetz called the
decision "a slap in the face to the people of Utah." Governor Gary Herbert said it "disregards the well-being and interests
of rural Americans." And Senator Mike Lee vowed to "work tirelessly with Congress and the incoming Trump administration to
honor the will of the people of Utah and undo this designation."
landowners fight federal government over Red River 'land grab'. In 1941, Ken Aderholt's grandfather built a
single-story brick house along the banks of the Red River — a shallow and serene waterway serving as the boundary
between Texas and Oklahoma — where the Aderholts have farmed wheat and raised cattle for generations. The
federal government is now claiming the land the house sits on is public. It declared hundreds of thousands of acres of
private land along the 116-mile stretch of river that Oklahoma and Texas share as government property.
THIS is going to "make America great again?" Interior
nominee Ryan Zinke defends expansive federal reach in land policies. Rep. Ryan Zinke, the nominee to head
the Interior Department, will cast himself Tuesday [1/17/2017] as a champion of the federal government expanding its reach over federal
lands, in a move that could signal friction with his own GOP colleagues. He also hinted, in testimony prepared for his confirmation
hearing Tuesday afternoon, that President-elect Donald Trump's promised infrastructure plans will include money to shore up the
crown jewels of the national park system, many of which are crumbling under a $12 billion maintenance backlog. Mr. Zinke
will call himself an "unapologetic admirer of Teddy Roosevelt," saying the former president "had it right" when he expanded the government's
reach to millions of acres of lands.
Rascals Of Government Want Your 401K Account. The 401(k) was a private industry solution to providing pensions
without bankrupting companies. The program has helped millions of people like me to benefit directly from the stock
market's incredible rise since Reagan became president. Employees squirrel away some pre-tax money in a savings plan,
which employers match. The money is invested in mutual funds. Then at 59½, they can start
drawing money down.
Anyone Besides Jeff Sessions Defend Today's Civil-Forfeiture Practices? For Christos and Markela Sourovelis,
for whom the worst thing was losing their home, "Room 101" was Courtroom 478 in City Hall. This "courtroom"'s name is
Orwellian: There was neither judge nor jury in it. There the city government enriched itself — more
than $64 million in a recent eleven-year span — by disregarding due-process requirements in order to seize and
sell the property of people who have not been accused, never mind convicted, of a crime. The Sourovelises' son, who lived
at home, was arrested for selling a small amount of drugs away from home. Soon there was a knock on their door by police
who said, "We're here to take your house" and "You're going to be living on the street" and "We do this every day." The
Sourovelises' doors were locked with screws and their utilities were cut off. They had paid off the mortgage on their
$350,000 home, making it a tempting target for policing for profit. Nationwide, proceeds from sales of seized property
(homes, cars, etc.) go to the seizers. And under a federal program, state and local law enforcement can partner with
federal authorities in forfeiture and reap up to 80 percent of the proceeds. This is called — more
Orwellian newspeak — "equitable sharing."
activists urge Trump to revoke Obama's national monuments. Western lands activists are urging Donald Trump to
test the limits of executive power by revoking millions of acres that President Obama set aside as national monuments,
setting up a landmark legal battle over one of the nation's most frequently used environmental protections. Such a step
would be historic. No president has undesignated a national monument created by his predecessor, and it's unclear whether he
has the authority to do so. But Obama administration critics say now is the time to try to establish a precedent. They
say Mr. Obama has wildly abused presidential power in using the 1906 Antiquities Act to cordon off huge swaths of land and
sea — mostly along the West and East coasts — to prevent energy exploration. In total, he has earmarked
at least 553 million acres of land and water as national monuments, far more than any other president.
Service trying to seize private land from Montana ranchers. Chris Hunter and his co-owners of Wonder Ranch in
southwestern Montana have decided it's their time to be brave. They're taking on the government and fighting for land
that is rightfully theirs. "It is daunting and depressing, we felt afraid and cornered," Hunter told me about the
government's actions. "You feel double crossed by your own government. You either have to sue them or it's a done
deal. It doesn't feel like America, it feels like we are living in one of the horrible dictatorships that we read about
in history books." The issue is that the U.S. Forest Service likes a quarter-mile-long trail that happens to cut across
Wonder Ranch's private land. For decades, the ranch's owners have happily granted access to both the public and
government employees anytime they've wanted to use the trail, which happens to cross through their front yard. It's
been an amicable relationship, but an uncertain one.
Targeting Innocent Americans — Accessing Their Travel Data To Seize Cash Via Civil Assets Forfeiture Laws. The
latest abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws involves air and rail travelers being targeted and fleeced by a federal
agency. The Drug Enforcement Administration is pulling Americans' travel data en masse from airline and Amtrak records,
profiling individuals with "suspicious" travel habits, and targeting them for searches as part of the nation's drug
interdiction efforts. But, according to a damning article last week in USA Today, the goal of this massive operation is
neither to confiscate drugs nor to make arrests — it's to seize and forfeit cash via civil asset forfeiture
laws. Seize, they have. Over 10 years, DEA agents deployed at 15 airports across the country have brought in
$209 million in alleged drug funds, money that the DEA and its local agency partners spent with little oversight or accountability.
But while agents generated a mountain of cash, they produced hardly any arrests, indictments, or convictions.
Americans Who Had Cash Seized By Government, a Chance to Get It Back. According to a GOP source, the IRS told
the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee that it will send letters to everyone the agency seized money from for
alleged structuring violations, which involves making consistent cash transactions of just under $10,000 to avoid reporting
requirements, starting in October 2009. The GOP source said that amounts to roughly 700 cases, and those involved
will have the opportunity to file petitions for remission or mitigation — akin to a petition for a presidential
pardon — with the tax agency. Once petitions are filed, the IRS will review them and determine if the
petitioner qualifies to get all or some of his or her money back.
States crack down on government cash
grabs. States across the country are revising laws that allow police to seize a person's cash and property without a conviction,
following widespread complaints about agencies profiteering off such legislation, holdovers from the "Miami Vice" cocaine era. Right now,
47 of the 50 states allow so-called civil asset forfeitures, with New Hampshire set to effectively end such practices, which allow
property and currency to be seized even if it's only suspected of being connected to a crime. The changes in New Hampshire and elsewhere
follow numerous, high-profile cases in which Americans have had their cash and other assets seized by state- and local-level police agencies
without being convicted and of police departments appearing to aggressively pursue such cases to fill their coffers.
Mexico Ended Civil Asset Forfeiture. Why Then Is It Still Happening? Let's revisit a state law that
emerged out of criticism of the process police use to seize assets they suspect are linked to crimes and keep those assets
without having to convict the owner of anything. It's called civil asset forfeiture. Critics say it's abused by
local police departments that see forfeiture as a source of funding. And New Mexico made news last summer when it
passed a law ending that practice. NPR's Martin Kaste reports on how the new law is working out.
frontiers in asset forfeiture. The most common form of property seized is cash. In fact, carrying large
amounts of cash is now in and of itself viewed as suspicion of criminal activity. People who still do carry a lot of
cash today have as much to fear from law enforcement as they do from criminals, particularly if they're planning to fly or
drive on a highway that passes through a "forfeiture corridor." The police theory has been that because most criminals
work with cash (probably true), most people carrying a lot of cash are probably criminals (probably not true). Don't want to
be under suspicion? Don't carry cash. But the Oklahoma state police are now using some new technology that could make
that advice obsolete.
Uses New Device To Seize Money Used During The Commission Of A Crime. You may have heard of civil asset
forfeiture. That's where police can seize your property and cash without first proving you committed a crime; without a
warrant and without arresting you, as long as they suspect that your property is somehow tied to a crime. Now, the
Oklahoma Highway Patrol has a device that also allows them to seize money in your bank account or on prepaid cards.
It's called an ERAD, or Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machine, and state police began using 16 of them last
month. Here's how it works. If a trooper suspects you may have money tied to some type of crime, the highway
patrol can scan any cards you have and seize the money.
The Editor says...
This is not an improvement. It's still based on the suspicion and opinion of a lone state trooper, not a judge or jury.
Don't Have to Be a Criminal for the IRS to Seize Your Bank Account. Like many other police agencies, the IRS
has extensive and easily abused civil-forfeiture powers. The idea behind civil forfeiture is that criminals should not
be allowed to profit from their crimes, and that their ill-gotten loot — cash, cars, real estate —
should find its way to the public fisc. In practice, that does happen, but forfeiture also provides a sweet stream of
lightly overseen revenue for police agencies, hence the temptation to abuse. As those who followed the horrifying case
of former House speaker Dennis Hastert know, there exists a class of financial crime called "structuring," a variation on
money-laundering. Federal law requires banks to report transactions of $10,000 or more. As a result, criminals
involved in cold-cash enterprises such as prescription-opiate trafficking or political corruption often limit their bank
withdrawals to amounts just under the reporting threshold in order to avoid detection.
IRS Took $43
Million From Innocent Americans Under 'Structuring' Law. The IRS has seized $43 million from more than 600
individuals by accusing them of violating "structuring" laws even when there has been no evidence of criminal wrongdoing,
according to testimony heard at the House Ways and Means Committee today [5/26/2016]. In 2012, two armed IRS agents
went to the farm of Randy Sowers, a dairy farmer for over three decades, to notify him that the IRS had seized the business'
bank account, which held more than $60,000. The agents told Sowers the IRS had done so because of structuring
laws. When an individual conducts a cash transaction in excess of $10,000, according to federal law, the bank must
file a currency transaction report with the Treasury Department. It is unlawful for an individual to break up or
"structure" cash deposits into amounts below $10,000 to avoid federal currency reporting.
IRS took $43M
from Americans under 'structuring' law without evidence. The IRS has seized $43 million from more than 600
individuals by accusing them of violating "structuring" laws even when there has been no evidence of criminal wrongdoing,
according to testimony heard at the House Ways and Means Committee today [5/26/2016]. In 2012, two armed IRS agents went
to the farm of Randy Sowers, a dairy farmer for over three decades, to notify him that the IRS had seized the business' bank
account, which held more than $60,000. The agents told Sowers the IRS had done so because of structuring laws.
the IRS Took $68K From Connecticut Bakers. Now, It's Investigating Them. [Scroll down] David
Vocatura had made cash deposits of under $10,000 into the bakery's account, but only after a bank employee called the bakery
in 2007 to tell them that deposits of more than that amount required them to submit additional paperwork. "The
terminology that they used was never really explained to us in detail," David Vocatura told The Daily Signal. "We just
thought it was an inconvenience or a nuisance for [the bank]." Regardless of the bank employee's instructions, the IRS
agents told David Vocatura that he had broken the law, which gave the tax agency the authority to empty the bakery's bank
account, containing $68,382.22. And the IRS did.
to Face Lawmakers After Thousands Seized From Small Business Owners. For more than four years, Maryland dairy
farmer Randy Sowers has been fighting the federal government, asking it to right what many say was a wrong. In Feb.
2012, two federal agents told Sowers, who owns South Mountain Creamery in Frederick, Md. that the Internal Revenue Service
was seizing more than $60,000 from his farm's bank account under a subset of civil forfeiture laws governing cash
transactions. According to the IRS, Sowers had committed structuring violations. Structuring is the act of making
consistent cash deposits or withdrawals of under $10,000 to avoid government reporting requirements. But the dairy
farmer didn't know he was doing anything wrong, and because Sowers and his wife sold milk at local farmer's markets —
where customers paid primarily in cash — they frequently made cash deposits into the business's bank account.
Donald Trump is now threatening the 401(k)s
of ordinary Americans. Who owns the most U.S. Treasury bonds? China? Japan? Saudi
Arabia? The answer: None of the above. It's us. We Americans own almost $5 trillion in Treasury
bonds, all told. That's more than twice as much as China, Japan and all the oil exporting countries put together.
And so when Donald Trump monkeys with the U.S. government debt, as he has in two interviews in the past few days, this isn't
just a matter of abstract economics or of sticking it to foreigners. It's about threatening to take your personal
401(k) out into the back yard and beat it like, as they say, "a rented mule."
police took $53,000 from a Christian band, an orphanage and a church. [Scroll down] Eh Wah managed the
band's finances, holding on to the cash proceeds it raised from ticket and merchandise sales at concerts. By the time
he was stopped in Oklahoma, the band had held concerts in 19 cities across the United States, raising money via tickets that
sold for $10 to $20 each. The sheriff's deputies in Muskogee County, Okla., pulled Eh Wah over for a broken tail light
about 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 27. The deputies started asking questions — a lot of them. And at some
point, they brought out a drug-sniffing dog, which alerted on the car. That's when they found the cash, according to the
deputy's affidavit. There was the roughly $33,000 from ticket sales and donations, much of it earmarked for the religious
college back in Burma, according to Eh Wah and the band members.
just gave cops the OK to simply take your stuff. When Attorney General Loretta Lynch decided late last year
that the Justice Department would end the federal civil-asset forfeiture program, criminal-justice reform advocates
proclaimed it a "significant deal. But late last month, less than four months later, the Obama administration reversed
itself and reinstated the Asset Forfeiture Fund's Orwellian "equitable sharing" program. That's a shame, particularly
when the only supporters of the policy are the law-enforcement agencies that directly benefit from it. Indeed, the
federal program's combined annual revenue has grown more than 1,000 percent in the last 15 years, filling the
coffers of federal, state and local police departments.
Guilty Until Proven
Innocent. After a months-long trip to visit extended family in Cincinnati, Charles Clarke was approached by
local law enforcement while preparing to board a flight home to Orlando. A tip from a ticket agent, who claimed that
Clarke's bag smelled like marijuana, had spurred the encounter. The officers, who were working with the Drug
Enforcement Administration, began quizzing Clarke, a 22-year-old African-American and college student, on his travel
plans. They also asked him if he was carrying cash. Believing he had nothing to hide from law enforcement, Clarke
consented to a search of his carry-on bag. Clarke was carrying approximately $11,000 in cash, money he had obtained
through legal means, including his job and student loans. Before taking his trip, he had decided to bring the money with
him because his mother, whom he lives with, was moving and Clarke did not want his money to be lying around for movers to find.
Governor Signs Forfeiture Reform into Law. Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation that requires law
enforcement to make an arrest before seizing property believed to be connected to a crime and increases the evidentiary
standard the government needs to permanently keep seized property. The bill also offers procedural reforms, such as a
$1,000 filing fee and $1,500 that the government needs to pay before beginning forfeiture proceedings against seized
property. The bond would be payable to the property owner if the government fails to produce evidence that the
property is connected to illicit activity.
Obama Regulations Will Push Private Retirement Savings Into Government Accounts. If you thought Obamacare was
terrifying, just wait until you read about what President Obama's regulatory agencies are planning to do with your retirement
savings. According to an alarming report in the Wall Street Journal, government regulators at the Labor Department will
be implementing new rules at the end of the year that will eventually force private retirement investments into government
accounts. How? By making private investment options, specifically IRAs, too burdensome, a liability and expensive.
Restarts Program Used to Take People's Property Without Due Process. Congress, in 1984, passed the Comprehensive Crime Control
Act, which created the Department of Justice's Assets Forfeiture Fund and allowed bureaucrats to develop the Equitable Sharing Program.
Deposits to the fund grew from nearly $94 million in 1986 to $4.5 billion in 2014. The Equitable Sharing Program is, however,
a symptom of the real issue. State and local law enforcement agencies working with federal agencies, through drug tasks forces or the
like, can seize property and allow the federal government to adopt it to begin forfeiture proceedings under federal forfeiture laws.
Federal forfeiture laws lack any substantive protections for innocent property owners. Seized property can be subjected to forfeiture
based on "a preponderance of the evidence," or a 51 percent likelihood that case the government made against the property is true.
Court Rules Against Freezing Assets Not Tied to Crimes. The government may not freeze assets needed to pay
criminal defense lawyers if the assets are not linked to a crime, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday [3/30/2016] in a 5-to-3
decision that scrambled the usual alliances. The case arose from the prosecution of Sila Luis, a Florida woman, on
charges of Medicare fraud that, according to the government, involved $45 million in charges for unneeded or nonexistent
services. Almost all of Ms. Luis's profits from the fraud, prosecutors said, had been spent by the time charges
feds restart vile, corrupt civil asset forfeiture program. The federal government is bringing back its Equitable
Sharing Program just months after shutting it down. The "Department of Justice" announced the decision to bring the civil
asset forfeiture program back this week, meaning participating local and state law enforcement agencies will enjoy getting a
piece of the pie whenever a task force seizes property.
Urge IRS, Justice Department to Return $29K Seized from Dairy Farmers. A bipartisan group of lawmakers on the
House Ways and Means Committee is urging the Justice Department, Treasury Department, and Internal Revenue Service to return
money "inappropriately" seized by the IRS under civil asset forfeiture. Led by Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Peter
Roskam, R-Ill., and Ranking Member John Lewis, D-Ga., the group of 14 lawmakers also called on the agencies to give property
owners the opportunity to petition the government for funds seized for structuring violations, which involve making
consistent cash transactions of just under $10,000 to avoid bank reporting requirements.
Trump and Eminent
Domain. It's a relatively new phenomenon for the government to seize property on behalf of private development
projects. And yet, so very many of these projects somehow used to get done. Only one thing is certain when it comes to
eminent domain: Those who have their property seized don't get paid enough for it. Admittedly, trying to clear out all
the homes from a certain area can be a seemingly insurmountable challenge. But there are free-market solutions.
America, President Obama has put politics into your pensions. The federal government is going to allow
retirement investments to be subjected to politically correct funny business due to a new guidance issued by the U.S. Labor
Department that puts the government's thumb on the scale in favor of so-called "socially responsible" investments. Prior
to the Obama administration action, these politically correct investment vehicles needed to match their peers by meeting the
same fiduciary standards in order to qualify for inclusion in a 401(k) or pension plan. In fact, in previous guidance
offered the financial services industry, the Labor Department flatly stated that the occurrence of these funds in a qualified
pension plan should be "rare."
unexpected New Year's present from Congress: Property rights. State and municipal law enforcement agencies make
big money seizing property from owners who have not been convicted or often even charged with a crime, on the pretext that it
was somehow involved in criminal activity. The burden falls upon property owners to prove it wasn't, and they might have to
go to great effort and expense to recover what's theirs. It sounds terribly un-American, but it is a routine practice in most
states. Some states, such as New Mexico, have already begun to reform it, requiring a criminal conviction before property can be
lawfully seized. When state laws are passed restricting this dubious police practice, the cops sometimes circumvent them by
involving the feds. That's because assets seized through joint federal task forces fall under federal law instead.
Justice Department just shut down a huge asset forfeiture program. The Department of Justice announced this
week that it's suspending a controversial program that allows local police departments to keep a large portion of assets
seized from citizens under federal law and funnel it into their own coffers. The "equitable-sharing" program gives
police the option of prosecuting asset forfeiture cases under federal instead of state law. Federal forfeiture policies are
more permissive than many state policies, allowing police to keep up to 80 percent of assets they seize — even if
the people they took from are never charged with a crime. The DOJ is suspending payments under this program due to budget
cuts included in the recent spending bill.
You Like Your 401(k), You Can Keep Your 401(k): Obama Labor Dept. Sets Stage for Nationalizing Retirement Accounts.
In 2013, in a little-heralded case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected the Obama Labor Department's attempt
to punish voluntary retirement plan service providers. The DOL, under the direction of the controversial, radical leftist
Tom Perez, had tried to force providers of 401(k), 403(b), IRA, and related services to adopt a massive new set of regulations
known as "fiduciary" responsibilities. The Seventh Circuit slammed the door shut on Labor and the Supreme Court thereafter
declined to hear the appeal, which meant that the Obama administration had lost in the highest court in the land. Of course
for the "most transparent administration ever", that step simply meant that the court's opinion was to be rejected and that Obama
would use his infamous pen to rule by executive fiat.
of Land Management shows contempt for property rights. Since 2008, the Bureau of Land Management has claimed up to
90,000 acres of private property inside Texas along the Red River as federal land. For nearly seven years, affected property
owners along the river tried to settle these disputed titles with BLM. And for nearly seven years (and counting), BLM failed to
come to the table. Last month, those property owners — represented by the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Center for
the American Future — filed the federal lawsuit of Aderholt v. BLM to end BLM's arbitrary seizure of their homes.
In the past two weeks, the state of Texas and the Texas General Land Office have joined this lawsuit.
Sam Owns This Much Of America. Uncle Sam owns nearly one out of every three acres in the United States —
640 million acres of the entire country's 2.27 billion acres. But "a picture is worth a thousand words," according
to Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources' Subcommittee on Oversight and
Investigations. So, his full committee created an interactive map revealing every acre the federal government owns in each
congressional district, color-coded by agency. Those 640 million acres aren't enough for the White House and federal
bureaucrats, as they're constantly trying to grab more for environmental reasons, Gohmert says.
George P. Bush
[is] Going to Court Over BLM 'Land Grab'. The Texas General Land Office is bidding to become involved in a property dispute over
a 116-mile stretch along the Red River that pits the federal Bureau of Land Management against various deed holders who have claimed ownership
of the area in question for generations. Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush, the son of former Florida governor and current
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, said his agency has standing to join a federal lawsuit challenging BLM claims since it manages
the mineral holdings on a 113-acre tract in Wilbarger County that is part of the contested area.
[Took] $4.5 Billion Worth of Private Property From Americans in 2014. The Department of Justice took $4.5 billion in
private property including cash, cars and homes from Americans in 2014, which includes both civil and criminal forfeitures, according to
a report from the Institute for Justice. A majority, or 87 percent, of the forfeitures by the government from 1997 to 2013 were
civil forfeitures, while only 13 percent were criminal. "Under civil forfeiture laws, the government can seize this property on
the mere suspicion that it is connected to criminal activity," the report, entitled "Policing for Profit," said. "No charges or
convictions are required."
Trump's Putrid Embrace of Eminent Domain Abuse. [Scroll down] In Kelo, the famous Supreme Court
eminent domain ruling which Trump has repeatedly praised, the government's land grab wiped out an entire neighborhood, not "a
corner of a piece of property." Similarly, when New York officials wielded eminent domain in order to clear space for the
Barclay's Center basketball arena in Brooklyn, the government's bulldozers laid waste to multiple homes and businesses.
An entire city block was erased from the map. The examples of this sort of eminent domain abuse go on and on.
Government takes family's land near Area
51. Private land overlooking the secret base at Area 51 has officially been taken from the owners and transferred
to the United States Air Force. Last month, the U.S. Air Force condemned the Groom Mine property when the family who owns it
rejected a government buyout they felt was unjust.
NYC Seizing Thousands Of Cars Without Warrants Is Unconstitutional. Under an aggressive policy meant to combat
unlicensed vehicles for-hire, the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) has seized over 21,000 cars since 2012.
After a seizure, commission inspectors pressure owners to plead guilty and pay hundreds of dollars in fines to recover their
property. The Commission's citywide dragnet not only cracked down those who compete with established transportation
companies, but also ensnared regular New Yorkers, who were simply driving their friends, family, neighbors — and
even nuns — around the city. After the TLC seized their cars without warrants, five owners sued in federal
court last year. As they asserted in their complaint, the government cannot "seize property without judicial process
and hold the property hostage."
The Government Land
Grab Case That Could Forever Change Private Property Rights. Ken Aderholt was born in Harrold, Texas, and grew up
on the state border, news channel 6 reported. Aderholt's family has been running cattle on land near the Red River since
1941 and hoped to pass the land on to their children as it was passed on to them but the BLM has swooped in to take it and the reason
why will stun you.
The Bureau Of Land Management Attempting A Land Grab On The Red River? Land disputes between private citizens and the federal
government — represented by the Bureau of Land Management — have been a hot topic since the standoff at Cliven Bundy's
ranch in Nevada last year. With the Bundy Ranch incident still fresh in the minds of conservatives who considered the dispute a land
grab on the part of the Bureau of Land Management, reports out of Texas — along the Oklahoma border at the Red River —
have been circulating for the past year and change.
Little Protection' for Property Owners in Decade Since Kelo Ruling. A public interest lawyer whose firm
represented homeowners in a controversial case regarding eminent domain 10 years ago told lawmakers that the U.S. Supreme
Court has left private property owners with "very little protection" if a city wants to take their residences for developmental
purposes. Dan Alban, an attorney for the Institute for Justice, a firm that represents people whose rights, the outfit
determines, are being violated by the government, appeared before the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution to say what he
characterized as the "infamous" Kelo v. City of New London case can be used to "transfer perfectly fine private property
to a private developer based simply on the mere promise of increased tax revenue."
Trump Trashes the Constitution, Endorses Eminent Domain Abuse. Earlier this week Republican presidential
candidate Donald Trump told Fox News that he totally supports the Supreme Court's shameful 2005 eminent domain decision in
Kelo v. City of New London. "I think eminent domain is wonderful," Trump declared. It was not a particularly
surprising comment. After all, as I noted here yesterday, Trump has a long record of seeking to personally profit from
eminent domain abuse. One such incident occurred in 1994 when Trump joined forces with government officials in New Jersey
in a legally unsuccessful attempt to kick an elderly widow out of her Atlantic City home in order to make room for a limousine
parking for the nearby Trump Plaza hotel and casino.
Obama Admin. Tries To Hide Land Grab From Western States. The Obama administration has opted not to list the
greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), instead using land use plans which basically amount to an
underhanded land grab, according to critics. "The 15 amended federal land use plans the Interior Department is using to
substitute for listing the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act perpetuate a top-down, penalty-based approach
that ultimately harms sage grouse conservation efforts," Brian Seasholes, director of the libertarian Reason Foundation's
endangered species project, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Air Force Is About To Seize 400 Acres Of Private Land In Nevada. The Cliven Bundy case showed lots of Americans that
the federal government is guilty of some pretty egregious abuses of property rights with respect to its dominant position as a
landowner in the West, and particularly in Nevada. But the Bundy situation was one thing. After all, Bundy's rights
in question involved grazing rights on government land and the feds' appropriating his livestock following a sketchy, if not
downright crooked, legal process. There is another Nevada land case which is considerably worse, and that one —
which involves nuclear testing, airstrikes and Area 51 — is coming to a head now.
Feds fighting to
keep cash seized from person never charged with crime. Federal prosecutors are battling in court to keep $167,000 in cash seized in a
2013 traffic stop, despite the motorist never being charged in the incident and the Obama administration clamped down this spring on such asset
seizures and forfeitures. The case — which highlights the ongoing concerns about the government unjustly seizing money and
property — began when a Nevada state trooper pulled over the motorist on a cross-country trip to California. The trooper stopped
Hawaii resident Straughn Gorman's motor-home in January 2013 for allegedly going too slow along Interstate 80.
In Trashing Land,
The EPA Has Nothing On The Forest Service. Americans now comprehend fully the disdain the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) has for truth-telling, the rights of others, and the environment. [...] Even so, the EPA has nothing on the U.S.
Forest Service. In documents filed days ago in a federal district court in Arkansas, the agency and its lawyers demand
dismissal of a $5 million lawsuit against the United States for decades of tortious use and abuse of a Scot-Irish family's
farmland settled one hundred years before the Ozark National Forest's creation made the Forest Service the family's neighbor.
Worse yet, Conner Eldridge, the United States Attorney for Arkansas, argues that, because the Forest Service trespassed upon
Matthew McIlroy's farm for years, the government owns the land! The assertion, which has no factual or legal support, is
asinine, absurd, and in conflict with an admonition of the Supreme Court of the United States.
fighting to keep cash seized from person never charged with crime. Federal prosecutors are battling in court to keep
$167,000 in cash seized in a 2013 traffic stop, despite the motorist never being charged in the incident and the Obama administration
clamped down this spring on such asset seizures and forfeitures. The case — which highlights the ongoing concerns
about the government unjustly seizing money and property — began when a Nevada state trooper pulled over the motorist on
a cross-country trip to California. The trooper stopped Hawaii resident Straughn Gorman's motor-home in January 2013 for
allegedly going too slow along Interstate 80.
Nine Times the Government Stole
Americans' Cash, Cars. Today [6/16/2015], The Heritage Foundation releases "Arresting Your Property: How Civil Asset
Forfeiture Turns Police Into Profiteers." This booklet highlights the important problem of civil asset forfeiture and tells
lawmakers how states and the federal government can help fix these broken laws. The booklet reveals the dark side of civil
forfeiture, where the government seizes your property without ever convicting you of, or even charging you with, a crime, and then
keeps the profits for its own coffers.
Another 'Barbarous Relic'.
That's the headline over a Financial Times editorial calling on authorities to consider phasing out the use of
cash — by everyone, not just governments. [...] In any event, the FT is promoting the idea that cash is another
barbarous relic at a time when our own government is moving to attack the use of even moderate amounts of cash in the most
startling ways. This story is being covered by, among others, the Daily Signal, which is published by the Heritage
Foundation. It has released a book on how civil asset forfeiture makes a mockery of property rights and, as Heritage
puts it, "turns the police into profiteers." The stories it has uncovered are heartbreaking.
Your Property: How Civil Asset Forfeiture Turns Police Into Profiteers. Civil asset forfeiture
is a law enforcement tool with a dark side. Meant to ensure that "crime does not pay," civil forfeiture
laws allow police to seize property they merely suspect was involved in criminal activity. In many states,
law enforcement authorities can keep whatever they seize as profits — leading some agencies to treat civil
forfeiture as a way to raise revenue, often at the expense of innocent property owners. Every American
knows that in a court of law they are innocent until proven guilty, but civil forfeiture flips this on its
head: Your property is guilty until you prove your own innocence.
Prosecutors Fight Back After Judge Orders Motorist Be Returned $167K Seized. After a federal judge ordered the
government return $167,000 law enforcement seized from a motorist driving through Nevada, federal prosecutors are fighting
the decision. The U.S. attorney's office in Reno, Nev., filed documents with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San
Francisco, Calif., earlier this month calling on the court to revisit a decision requiring the government to return cash it
seized from Straughn Gorman several years ago. Gorman was never charged with a crime.
farmer fighting feds after IRS milks him for $30,000. Randy Sowers built his dairy farm over three decades into
a thriving business. After kick-starting with a $100,000 loan, today the South Mountain Creamery has 1,000 cows and
70 employees delivering milk, ice cream and other products to homes in the Washington, D.C., area. But the Maryland
farmer's operation suffered a big setback when the IRS swooped in to seize tens of thousands of hard-earned dollars from his
account, claiming he violated an obscure banking law.
Group of Lawmakers Asks Treasury Department to Return $29,500 Taken From Innocent Dairy Farmers. A bipartisan
group of lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee is coming together to ask the Treasury Department to
return nearly $30,000 it seized from Maryland dairy farmers in 2012. The letter, sent August 11 to Treasury Secretary
Jack Lew, calls on the agency to return $29,500 the Internal Revenue Service seized from Frederick-based dairy farmers Randy
and Karen Sowers through civil asset forfeiture. The lawmakers also asked Lew to review similar cases and return money
seized by the tax agency under the practice.
Power' in the Decade Since Landmark Eminent Domain Ruling. An attorney for the
organization that represented homeowners in a controversial U.S. Supreme Court case that made it
easier for governments to appropriate property and hand it over to another private entity for
economic development purposes said the ruling continues to pose a threat to all landowners and
called on lawmakers to address the potential abuse of eminent domain. Dan Alban, an attorney for
the Virginia-based Institute for Justice, told the House Judiciary Committee that studies show that
the outcome of the Kelo v. City of New London case, decided by the high court 10 years ago,
"disproportionately impacts minorities, the less educated and the less well-off" and provides the
government with "despotic power."
Curbs Gov't Property Grab Abuses, Vindicates Extorted Raisin Farmers. The Fifth
Amendment provides that "private property" shall not "be taken for public use, without just
compensation." When I wrote my book, The Original Constitution, I had to address the question
of whether the Fifth Amendment phrase "private property" referred only to real estate or whether it
included movable goods and other personal property. The answer is not clear from the text,
because the historical record shows that in another part of the Constitution (Article IV, Section 3,
Clause 2) the word "property" refers only to land. Accordingly, I canvassed the history relevant
to "takings." I found an Anglo-American tradition of compensating for seizures of personal property
that extended back to Magna Carta and continued to the time the Constitution was drafted. I concluded,
therefore, that the Fifth Amendment protected a right to be compensated for all property taken.
Sides With Raisin Farmer — Deals Blow To USDA Crop Seizures Without Compensation. The
case was Horne v. U.S. Dept of Agriculture. Essentially a raisin farmer was fined (and the price
of his crop similarly assessed) for not forfeiting their harvest to the USDA in a program where the government
regulates supply and demand through production controls. SCOTUS ruled 8-1 (Sotomayor dissent) the U.S.
government cannot "take", or force destroyed, farming crops without compensation to the farmer under the fifth
amendment "takings" clause.
Court strikes down federal raisin program as unconstitutional. Score one for the
little guy. The Supreme Court sided with a renegade raisin farmer Monday [6/21/2015] in his
battle against a federal program designed to keep excess raisins off the market. A majority of
justices ruled that the Agriculture Department program, which seizes excess raisins from producers
in order to prop up market prices during bumper crop years, amounted to an unconstitutional
government "taking." But they limited their verdict to raisins, lest they simultaneously overturn
other government programs that limit production of goods without actually seizing private property.
Why is the plaintiff described as "a renegade raisin farmer?"
Details Whether Asset Forfeiture Laws in Your State Are Good or Awful. The liberty-loving
activists at FreedomWorks has produced a useful tool to examine the quality of civil asset forfeiture
laws (the rules that allow police to seize and often keep money and property from busts) across the
states. They've put together a new map that grades each state and the federal government on the
basis of the following questions: • What is the standard of proof the government
must meet to forfeit a person's property? • Who has the burden of prove innocence
or mistake — the government or the property owner? • What percentage
of forfeiture funds are retained by law enforcement?
Chicago, a Public University Tries to Seize Private Property. Should a public
university be allowed to seize private property from people who don't want to sell? That's what
Northeastern Illinois University is trying to do. The school is located in a north side Chicago
neighborhood with an eclectic offering of restaurants and mom-and-pop stores. Many of the small
businesses in the area have been in the owners' families for generations — but that's not
what university officials want on their campus. The university is suing to bulldoze those private
businesses and turn over the property to a private developer instead.
Prosecutors Fight Aggressively to Retain Barbaric Right of "Civil Asset Forfeiture".
Efforts to limit seizures of money, homes and other property from people who may never be convicted
of a crime are stalling out amid a wave of pressure from prosecutors and police. Their effort,
at least at the state level, appears to be working. At least a dozen states considered bills
restricting or even abolishing forfeiture that isn't accompanied by a conviction or gives law
enforcement less control over forfeited proceeds. But most measures failed to pass.
Brace for [a]
Massive Private-Property Land Grab. The chutzpah of Barack Obama has no limits, and
the man has no shame. [...] The small article in my local paper, the Contra Costa Times, was headlined,
"With new EPA water rule, Obama again takes executive action on environment." The fact that it was
a small article on the inside of the paper is illustrative that the liberal media find nothing wrong with
the president using the power of an executive order to bypass Congress and get what he wants.
This is exactly the treatment you would expect in Mexico or Cuba or North Korea: DEA
to traveler: Thanks, I'll take that cash. A DEA agent boarded the train at the Albuquerque Amtrak station
and began asking various passengers, including [Joseph] Rivers, where they were going and why. When Rivers replied
that he was headed to LA to make a music video, the agent asked to search his bags. Rivers complied. Rivers
was the only passenger singled out for a search by DEA agents — and the only black person on his portion of
the train, [his attorney, Michael] Pancer said.
This took place on an Amtrak train. Black
aspiring businessman has $16,000 life savings seized by DEA agents. It was a lifetime
ambition for 22-year-old Joseph Rivers to arrive in Los Angeles and become a big name in the music
business. And he nearly made it... until a team of DEA agents put a stop to everything by
snatching his life savings without even charging him with a crime. The aspiring businessman from
the outskirts of Detroit had managed to scrape together $16,000 and was finally on the train to Los
Angeles when the justice department stepped in, reported the Albuquerque Journal. Officers found
Joseph's thousands of dollars stashed in a bank envelope and questioned him about the origins of the cash.
persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are
citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce
any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall
any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to
any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
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."
Does your laptop have
rights? For many airline passengers, carrying a laptop or smartphone through security is as
familiar a part of the travel ritual as removing their shoes. But for travelers arriving in the
United States from other countries, the process is not always so simple; thousands have had their
electronic devices not just screened but confiscated, and sometimes not returned for months.
government land grab. The Virginia General Assembly last week gave its first approval to a
constitutional amendment restoring the sanctity of private property in the commonwealth. The measure
was made necessary by the reckless 2005 Supreme Court decision Kelo v. New London, which gave towns
and cities free rein to grab land for the use and benefit of well-connected developers.
Whatever happened to Kelo's land? Years
Later, Land Seized in Kelo Decision Used for Debris Dump. In 2005, Kelo v. City of New
London made eminent domain infamous. The widely reviled Supreme Court ruling gave the go ahead for the
city of New London to use eminent domain for taking private property in order that it be given to a private
company for "economic development."
Justice apologizes to Kelo. The
New London v. Kelo decision allowed the city of New London to force the Kelos and their neighbors to sell their
houses to the city of New London, Connecticut, on the premise that a developer would build something that would
generate more taxes. The state Supreme Court voted 4-3 to go along with this idiocy, as did the U.S. Supreme
Court later, 5-4. The project went belly up and the result is New London lost residents and revenue.
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
Steal. In the late 1990s, after a public backlash against the use of civil asset forfeiture to take
money and property from innocent people, seven states passed laws assigning all proceeds from such forfeitures to
public schools or the general fund instead of police departments and prosecutors' offices. The idea was
to reduce the incentive to seize assets from innocent owners and to target people based on the value of their
property instead of the seriousness of their crimes. In Indiana, the state's original constitution
called for criminal forfeitures to be earmarked for a school fund, and recent attorneys general have applied
that provision to civil forfeiture as well. But thanks to various evasive maneuvers, very little
forfeiture money actually ends up in the fund.
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.
your property: Zaher El-Ali has repaired and sold cars in Houston for 30 years. One
day, he sold a truck to a man on credit. Ali was holding the title to the car until he was paid, but
before he got his money the buyer was arrested for drunken driving. The cops then seized Ali's truck and
kept it, planning to sell it. Ali can't believe it. "I own that truck. That truck done
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.
Big Blighters. After Kelo v. City
of New London, the 2005 decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court approved the forcible transfer of property
from one private owner to another in the name of "economic development," 43 states passed reforms that
were supposed to curb eminent domain abuses. But most states still allow condemnation of property
deemed to be "blighted," and many of them define that condition so broadly that it has become a synonym for
coveted, as illustrated by two recent New York cases.
Rules Private Land Can Be Seized for NBA Arena. New York's highest court ruled Tuesday [11/24/2009]
that it's lawful for a state economic development agency to seize private land to build an arena for a professional
basketball team. The 6-1 ruling by the New York State Court of Appeals allows the contentious $4.9 billion,
22-acre Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, N.Y., to proceed. The proposed development includes office
towers, apartments and a new arena for the NBA's New Jersey Nets.
Property Owners Get Dunked
On. New York judges served up what basketball fans call a facial on Tuesday [11/24/2009], when an
appellate court ruled that the state may seize homes and small businesses in Brooklyn for the benefit of a private
developer and the New Jersey Nets. The decision represents a backward step for the effort to protect property
rights at the state level since the Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Kelo v. New London.
Federal prosecutors scoop up millions for victims as greedy bad guys
go to jail. The Manhattan U.S. attorney's office collected more than $450 million from
criminal forfeitures between Oct. 1, 2008, and Sept. 30, 2009. When civil proceeds are added,
the total jumps to $570 million — more than 11 times the office's annual budget. What
doesn't get turned over to victims goes to Justice Department coffers.
Legalized larceny posing as
forfeiture. The Supreme Court seems to think that anything is permissible in the name of fighting
crime. On June 24, 1996, United States vs. Ursery, the court ruled that civil punishments in addition
to criminal punishments do not constitute double jeopardy. Asset forfeitures came to prominence in the war
against drugs. They have not dented drug use but they have made thieves out of law enforcement officers.
Hold On to Your Assets. This fall, the
U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Alvarez v. Smith, a challenge to the state of
Illinois' Drug Asset Forfeiture Procedure Act (DAFPA). The six petitioners in Alvarez each had
property seized by police who suspected the property had been involved in a drug crime. Three had their
cars seized, three had cash taken. None of the six were served with a warrant, none of the six were
charged with the crime. All perfectly legal, at least until now.
The Forfeiture Racket:
Over the past three decades, it has become routine in the United States for state, local, and federal governments
to seize the property of people who were never even charged with, much less convicted of, a crime. Nearly
every year, according to Justice Department statistics, the federal government sets new records for asset
Municipal land-grabbing powers should be
curtailed. The Frontier Centre for Public Policy today released a study from policy analyst
Joseph Quesnel which looks at the practice of municipal expropriation for economic development. In his
study, Quesnel argues that this practice must be curbed as it prone to serious abuse.
gives Flight 93 site landowners one week to sell. The federal government issued an ultimatum yesterday
[6/5/2009] to people who own land designated for the Flight 93 memorial in Western Pennsylvania: They have
one week to reach an agreement on the sale of their land or the government will initiate proceedings to seize it.
Racing Past the
Constitution: In 2006, supposedly to "address the negative impact that riverboat gaming has had" on
Illinois horse racing, the Legislature — racing interests made huge contributions to Gov. Rod
Blagojevich — mandated a transfer of 3 percent of the gross receipts of the four most
profitable casinos, those in the Chicago area, to the state's horse-racing tracks. This levy,
subsequently extended to run until 2011, will confiscate substantially more than $100 million.
What is to prevent legislators from taking revenues from Wal-Mart and giving them to local retailers? Or from
chain drugstores to local pharmacies? Not the tattered remnant of the Constitution's takings clause.
Daley Seizes Land for Unfunded Project. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has kicked hundreds of families
out of their homes and relocated a cemetery full of buried bodies to build a whopping $15 billion airport
expansion Chicago residents oppose, airlines don't want and he doesn't have the money to build. The
kicker is that Daley stands a solid chance of getting a good chunk of the boondoggle funded in Washington's
forthcoming stimulus bill under Barack Obama's pledge to dramatically increase infrastructure spending.
Eminent Domain and the
Eighth Commandment: Our parents taught us from childhood that it is wrong to take from others what doesn't
belong to us. Yet, when we grow up we learn we can get away with it as long as we have the right excuses and
rationalizations. The first step in rationalizing this kind of action is to give it an innocuous label. It
is best to use the Latin expression eminent domain, instead of by the vulgar term "stealing."
Tiny bit of land triggers big fight over city powers.
When finished, the .09-acre patch of land near the Galleria will be the city's smallest park. Too small even for a
basketball court, Post Oak Lane Park might be big enough for a game of horseshoes, a few benches and greenery. Using
its power of eminent domain, the city of Houston seized the land for the park from brothers James and Jock Collins last year.
Dems Target Private Retirement
Accounts. Democrats in the U.S. House have been conducting hearings on proposals to confiscate
workers' personal retirement accounts — including 401(k)s and IRAs — and convert them
to accounts managed by the Social Security Administration. Triggered by the financial crisis the past
two months, the hearings reportedly were meant to stem losses incurred by many workers and retirees
whose 401(k) and IRA balances have been shrinking rapidly.
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
Be Raided? The notion of government raiding personal retirement accounts for funds may seem
extreme. Perhaps it shouldn't. Other governments have done it. Argentina did in 2008.
Ireland has indicated it might. The worsening financial crisis may eventually move other countries in
that direction. Surely the US would never do so. Actually, there is little basis for
assuming they would not and factual evidence they would. Here are three good reasons to believe they
Move Over New London.
The Texas Legislature did pass a law in 2005 that banned the use of eminent domain for "economic development"
takings. But the law contained an exception for takings designed to eliminate "slum or blighted areas."
The city has done its homework and determined — to no one's surprise — that the entire
area is blighted. Yet the city's own study clearly shows there is vibrant economic activity taking
place within this "blighted" area.
Is There A War Brewing on the
War on Drugs? House Resolution 1658, due to be voted on this week, would require the government
to meet more stringent reporting requirements concerning assets seized in drug busts. Presently, assets may
be seized by the police without a defendant being convicted, upon suspicion of such property being used to
manufacture or distribute illegal narcotics. Between 1985 and 1995, the Departments of Justice and
Treasury seized nearly $4 billion in assets from US citizens, according to government reports.
Raid targets Mongols
motorcycle gang. In an unusual maneuver, the feds are also seeking to seize control of the Mongols'
trademarked name, which is typically accompanied by its cherished insignia — a ponytailed Genghis
Khan-like figure riding a chopper. U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien said if his plan is successful,
the government would take over ownership of the trademark, and anyone caught wearing a Mongols patch could
have it seized by law enforcement on the spot.
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. The
legal phrase "eminent domain" has become all too familiar to nonlawyers in recent years as the U.S. Supreme
Court has gradually expanded the power of municipalities to condemn private property and seize it for "public"
use — even if they just end up handing property over to another private party.
Farmers upset over Perry veto of eminent
domain bill. One Central Texas farmer said Monday he was "dumbfounded" by Gov. Rick Perry's
veto of an eminent domain bill designed to protect landowners when the state wants to take their property.
Robert Fleming is not alone in an area worried about the massive Trans Texas Corridor proposal. The
planned route cuts through Fleming's Bell County farms.
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: 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.
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.
The Last Two Kelo Holdouts
Fold. Susette Kelo and Pasquale Cristofaro, plaintiffs in the infamously historic U.S. Supreme
Court decision of last year have reached an agreement with the Stalinists in New London, Connecticut
who chose to sieze their property to give it to another private party that will generate more
tax revenue for them.
Property Rights on State Ballots.
The [Supreme] Court's narrow majority gave a green light for politicians to take property through eminent domain
for pretty much whatever reason they liked. … If anything positive came from this atrocious, activist
decision, it was to spark a national backlash in favor of property rights.
Kelo's Backlash: Imminent
Success? The Kelo backlash isn't just alive — it's thriving and producing results that
can only be described as historic. … As of July 3rd, the number of states that have passed reforms
has grown to 25 — out of 45 states that had legislative sessions this year. And, it is
possible that, in the next month, that number could grow to as high as 29. … In all the states that
have passed reforms, the situation has improved — often dramatically.
Executive Order: Protecting
the Property Rights of the American People. It is the policy of the United States to protect the
rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the
Federal Government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the
purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest
of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.
The pirates of eminent domain:
If state and local governments can force a property owner to surrender his land so it can be given to a new
owner who will put it to more lucrative use, no home or shop in America will ever be safe again.
New American Tea
Party: Kelo backlash could lead to restoration of property rights lost to smart
growth and eminent domain abuses.
The Right to Private Property
is a Civil Right. Property owners are reeling from recent decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court
in which the Court relegated the right to own property to second-class status. However, the Court's
actions are inconsistent with our Constitution and denigrate the role private ownership of property plays
in our system of government.
The Tyranny of Eminent
Domain: You do not own your property. That is the meaning of the Supreme Court's
June 23  ruling in Kelo v. City of New London, which held that local governments may
use the power of eminent domain to transfer private property from one private owner to another in pursuit
of "the public interest."
A year after
Kelo. While eminent domain makes sense when it is used to clear the way for such things as
railroads or utilities, it's hard to see how the "public use" requirement embodied in the Fifth Amendment
is satisfied when, as former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor noted in her dissent, the government is
simply replacing a Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton.
Kelo Outrage Fuels a Surging Property
Rights Movement. The Kelo decision was actually one of the best things that ever happened to the
national property rights movement, as it clearly imprinted the precarious nature of private property rights in
the public consciousness and has inspired significant reforms nationwide.
Facing Down The Bulldozers.
It is true, notes Steven Eagle, a law professor at George Mason University, that the Fifth Amendment gives
little guidance on how to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate uses of eminent domain. But that's
because whatever other abuses King George had perpetrated, he did not go around throwing people out of their
homes to build mansions for the wealthy. Deployment of eminent domain powers for economic redevelopment
projects — as New London is doing — was simply not something that the founders anticipated.
Master of Your Domain: The Impact
of the Kelo Decision. Several states — including Alabama, Delaware, Ohio,
and Texas — have succeeded in passing eminent domain reforms, but most of these do not
have any real teeth. According to Timothy Sandefur of the Pacific Legal Foundation,
laws like those in Alabama and Texas leave open the door to eminent domain abuse by still
allowing governments to take land they deem "blighted."
Eminent Domain, Private Property, and
Redevelopment: Eminent domain is the power governments have to confiscate,
or take, private property as long as it is for a legitimate "public use" and property owners
receive "just compensation." Whereas eminent domain was initially intended to ensure
that public services, such as roads and highways, were available to the public, local and
state governments often use eminent domain for any project that is considered economically
beneficial. Public use, as a practical matter, has morphed into a more ambiguous "public
benefit." An estimated 10,000 cases between 1998 and 2002 involved projects where private
parties benefit substantially from government seizures of property under the banner of economic
development or urban redevelopment. [PDF]
Court rules local governments can seize
homes. In a blow to U.S. farmers, a divided Supreme Court ruled today [6/23/2005] that local
governments may seize people's homes and businesses for private economic development projects. The court
ruled 5-4 that boosting economic growth outweighed a homeowner's property rights. The case involved a
homeowner who refused to sell her property to the city of New London, Conn. The city wanted the property
so a private developer could build a hotel, shopping and housing complex.
Property Rights Protection Get Bogged
Down. Despite the widespread concern that swept the country following the Kelo decision,
state and federal elected officials have done little to strengthen the protection of property rights.
With the exceptions of the House bill and new laws in Alabama and Texas, property rights initiatives in other
states and in the U.S. Senate have been bogged down in legislative committees, in large part due to opposition
from mayors, developers, and economic development officials who stand to see their power diminished.
Supreme Court Rules
Government can seize your home. The American Conservative Union sharply
condemned [the recent] highly controversial 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that local governments
may use eminent domain to take people's homes and businesses and turn them over to private
developers. … "It is outrageous to think that the government can take away your home
any time it wants to build a shopping mall," said ACU Chairman David Keene.
Supreme Court Rules Cities
May Seize Homes for Private Use. The Supreme Court today [6/23/2005] effectively
expanded the right of local governments to seize private property under eminent domain, ruling
that people's homes and businesses — even those not considered blighted — can
be taken against their will for private development if the seizure serves a broadly
defined "public use."
Kelo in mass quantities: Florida City Plans to Drive 6,000
Citizens from Their Homes. "It can't happen here" was the prevailing initial response
of Florida's public officials after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2005 in Kelo v. City of
New London. The state's attorney general even issued a statement evidently intended to calm
Floridians' fears that their local governments suddenly had carte blanche authority to seize
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.
property: The Court's decision helps explain the vicious attacks on any judicial
nominees who might use framer-intent to interpret the U.S. Constitution. America's
socialists want more control over our lives, property and our pocketbooks. They cannot
always get their way in the legislature, and the courts represent their only chance.
They Can't Take That Away From Me… Unless They
Can. Put simply, cities cannot take someone's house just because they think they can make better
use of it. Otherwise, argues Scott Bullock, Mrs Kelo's lawyer, you end up destroying private property
rights altogether. For if the sole yardstick is economic benefit, any house can be replaced at any time
by a business or shop (because they usually produce more tax revenues). Moreover, if city governments
can seize private property by claiming a public benefit which they themselves determine, where do they stop?
City to seize church by eminent
domain. The city of Long Beach, Calif., is using the power of eminent domain bolstered by last
summer's U.S. Supreme Court ruling to condemn a Baptist congregation's church building.
government taking: Conaway Ranch is a 17,300-acre spread north of Davis, Calif. … Yolo
County wants the land. In 2004, county supervisors voted to seize the ranch by eminent
domain. "We want to keep it from being developed," explained Supervisor Mike McGowan.
New chance to curtail
eminent domain abuse. Carl and Joy Gamble, retirees who lived in the same house in
Norwood, a Cincinnati suburb, for more than three decades, did not realize their neighborhood
was "deteriorating." Neither did the Norwood City Council, until it heard about developer
Jeffrey Anderson's plan to build offices, condominiums, chain stores and a parking garage there.
Kelo's Implications are
Horrendous. Kelo does not mean the end of private property per se, but it does mean
the end of anyone's secure possession, be the owner an individual or a corporation. To the extent
that Americans still possess constitutional rights, Kelo could mean their end as well.
Black Activists Call for Eminent Domain
Restrictions in Virginia. The push to restrict the use of eminent domain for private
development in Virginia is getting an extra shove from black activists worried the homes and businesses
of minorities could be the main targets of real estate developers and local governments hungry for more
Your Home is Your Cottage. Property
rights are in trouble just about everywhere. The latest trend hits an economic right Americans have
traditionally taken for granted: the right to build or buy the biggest home you can afford.
A New (London)
Low. The U.S. Supreme Court recently found that the city's original seizure
of private property was constitutional under the principal of eminent domain, and now New
London is claiming that the affected homeowners were living on city land for the duration
of the lawsuit and owe back rent. It's a new definition of chutzpah: Confiscate land
and charge back rent for the years the owners fought confiscation.
Hands off our
homes. A grass-roots movement has arisen to keep other people's hands off private
homes. Libertarian groups such as the Institute for Justice, which were campaigning against
eminent-domain abuse before Kelo, report an upsurge in support, both moral and monetary.
left is eyeing your home. When the Supreme Court decided seven weeks ago in
Kelo vs. New London to loosen constitutional restraints on local governments taking your
house and selling it to Wal-Mart, it triggered a wave of public revulsion from New England
to South Los Angeles. … Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) cosponsored a successful
amendment to stop federal Community Development Block Grants from going to any locale that
doesn't prohibit eminent domain seizures for private development. … House Minority
Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) opposed Waters' amendment, arguing that the Supreme
Court decision "is almost as if God has spoken."
Editorial Comment: Actually
there's more truth than poetry in that statement, because if the government is Congresswoman
Pelosi's god, then her god has spoken.
It takes a
village … of property owners. Governments historically use eminent domain
to acquire private property for "public use," defined as a road, bridge or a school. Here,
the city bluntly acknowledges its goal — a higher tax base.
in Peril. Property owners beware. If an owner does not make maximum
productive use of his property, government is now empowered to transfer the property to
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.
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.
Supreme Court OKs Expansion of Takings
Power. The U.S. Supreme Court gave a major victory to urban planners, large property
owners, and government in the Kelo v. New London decision announced June 23. The major
losers are those who treasure private property rights and the respect for those rights set forth in the
U.S. Constitution and those with the least political power to protect themselves.
David. An application has been made to condemn the family home of Supreme Court
Justice David Souter, to make way for hotel development.
Kelo Ruling Puts American Dream at
Risk: Justice David Souter is probably breathing a sigh of relief. Last month, New
Hampshire voters rebuffed attempts to seize the Supreme Court justice's home and transform it into a
private inn. This effort was an orchestrated protest of the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in
Kelo v. New London, in which Souter joined the majority. While theatrical, the proposed seizure of
Souter's home is not surprising: There are few recent Supreme Court cases that elicit as visceral a
reaction as Kelo. As well it should.
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
a Zimbabwe situation.
Lessons from the Kelo Decision:
One week after the Kelo decision by the Supreme Court, Americans are still reeling from the shock of having our
nation's highest tribunal endorse using government power to condemn private homes to benefit a property developer.
Even as we celebrate our independence from England this July 4th, we find ourselves increasingly enslaved by
petty bureaucrats at every level of government. The anger engendered by the Kelo case certainly resonates
on this holiday based on rebellion against government.
Domain Plan Could Be the Largest. The project, potentially one of the country's largest eminent
domain seizures, has placed Riviera Beach at the center of a nationwide battle over whether government should
be allowed to seize property for private development.
Why we need
conservative judges: Citizens don't need their lives defined by others. They
need protection. And the vulnerable particularly need protection. Protection means
having a legal code that has integrity and having judges that see their job as relating to that
law to protect people from the unjust encroachment by others. I would say a society of
tyranny is one in which it is never clear what the law is and how I am protected. Ironically,
this also characterizes a liberal society. This couldn't have been driven home more clearly
than by the Supreme Court's recent eminent-domain decision in the Kelso v. City of New London
Never Mind the Kelo, Here's
Scott Bullock. It was rather shocking that a majority of the Supreme Court
would permit this type of abuse. We're in an America where, as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
points out, church property can be taken for a Costco, a farm can be turned into a factory, and a
neighborhood can be leveled for a shopping mall. Most people cannot believe that this can
happen in this country and the Supreme Court gave sanction to that with their decision.
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.
become dictators: This week, the Supreme Court of the United States once again
proved that it is a feckless, dictatorial and altogether ridiculous body. Its latest
spate of decisions reveals legislative usurpation, disingenuous deference and silly
inconsistency. But, of course, what else should we expect from the court that
tells us our Constitution protects pornography but not political advertising, sodomy
but not the Ten Commandments, and mentally disabled murderers but not private property?
government: 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
more. The U.S. Supreme Court is allowing a local government to kick out of the
house in which she was born 87-year-old Wilhelmina Dery and her husband who has lived there
with her for 60 years. Why? The government wants to seize their property, bulldoze
their house and many others and sell the land to businesses and developers for private uses.
High Court to homeowners: Stick
'em up! It's like a bad dream, or a summer disaster movie. But this is real. We live
under a regime that can and often does grab our homes and small businesses to create what politicians call
"economic development." The process is simple: the government takes our property, pays us what it
thinks the property's worth, and then hands our property — in finely crafted "sweetheart
deals" — to developers and big corporations that will produce greater tax revenue.
Eminent injustice in New
London. Would your town's tax base grow if your home were bulldozed and replaced with a
parking garage? If so, it may not be your home for long.
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'. A
ruling handed down today by the Supreme Court paves the way for local governments to seize private property
and hand it over to developers and other private businesses. … While eminent domain may be necessary to
build public projects such as roads and bridges, this decision will allow private homes to be taken to
build shopping malls, hotels and theaters.
Hail seizers! The
New York Times cheers on the land grabbers. According to the Court, the Fifth Amendment,
which allows the government to take property "for public use" provided it pays "just compensation," is
a license to transfer any parcel of land from its current owner to someone the government thinks
will make better use of it.
This Land is My Land: Reforming
Eminent Domain after Kelo v.City of New London. On June 23, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the
city of New London's use of eminent domain to condemn several properties the city claimed stood in the way of
additional tax revenues and new jobs. However, Justice Stevens, author of the majority opinion in Kelo,
explained that nothing precludes states from restricting their takings power. Doing so is a first step
toward assuring homeowners that they can keep what they own.
EFF raises the
Gadsden flag in protest of Supreme Court property rights decision. The
Gadsden flag was the fighting standard chosen by American patriots during the
Revolutionary War. The English government was infringing upon the fundamental rights
of life, liberty and property, and, as a result, the American colonists revolted. The
Gadsden flag, with the famous words "Don't tread on me," best portrayed their sentiment.
Property Damage: With
yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. New London, the nation's highest court has
essentially given federal, state and local governments an unlimited ability to take a private
citizen's property as long as proper payment is made. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution prohibits private property from being taken through eminent domain without "just
compensation," but it further stipulates that the property must be taken for a "public use." In
Kelo, the Supreme Court watered down the public use requirement so as to make it almost meaningless.
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
rights. Congress is taking steps to reverse a Supreme Court decision that turned a thriving
middle-class community into a waterfront wasteland. It's about time Kelo was knocked off-kilter.
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
eminent domain. What the Supreme Court in the 18th century found unthinkable,
the Supreme Court of the 20th century made lawful. In Berman v. Parker, a 1954 case, a
unanimous court permitted eminent domain to be deployed for purposes of what was
then called "urban renewal." Berman's narrow exception soon became an open
floodgate of eminent-domain abuse.
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.
homes. What would you call it if someone forced you to sell your home, even
though you didn't want to sell and didn't agree to the price? You would call it
theft and phone 911. But the realm of government is cloaked in terminology designed
to hide unpleasant realities. When the government does this, it's
called "eminent domain," and it's legal.
The Asset Forfeiture
Manual: Judges, lawyers, and other government officials enjoy various
levels of personal immunity provided by both law and "professional courtesy." How
do you sue a lawyer for malpractice? You hire another lawyer - if you can
find one who'll take the case. How do you sue an IRS agent for violating your
Constitutional rights? Only with great difficulty. How you sue a judge for
railroading you in court? You don't.
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.
evil. What is socialism? We miss the boat if we say it's the agenda of
left-wingers and Democrats. According to Marxist doctrine, socialism is a stage of
society between capitalism and communism where private ownership and control over property
are eliminated. The essence of socialism is the attenuation and ultimate abolition of
private property rights. Attacks on private property include, but are not limited to,
confiscating the rightful property of one person and giving it to another to whom it
Bandits with Badges:
Society has no problem with law enforcement fighting crime or even confiscating property used in a criminal
enterprise but, as with any law, the good intent for which the law was created, has been immensely abused to
the point that innocent citizens are losing everything they ever worked for without even being charged or
convicted of a crime. Clearly, states need to pass laws to safeguard the rights of the innocent from
zealot law enforcement agencies run amuck from the smell of greed.
The War on
Crime: Today, more than 200 different kinds of forfeiture laws exist in
America, and items are often seized on mere suspicion. Some 80% of people who have
their property seized are never formally charged with a crime. Attempts to recover
seized property is a legal nightmare for private citizens.
seizures begin to spur backlash. While the U.S. Constitution allows
governments to use eminent domain, that power generally had been restricted to acquiring
land to build roads, schools and other infrastructure government needed to carry out its
role of providing for the public welfare. But scholars say that began to change in
the 1950s when local governments began using eminent domain as a means to clean slums.
Highway "forfeiture traps" are apparently still alive and
flourishing. A few years ago these forfeiture traps on interstate highways were getting a lot of
media attention. Television news shows such as 20/20 and 60 Minutes aired exposes on forfeiture
traps in Volusia County, Florida, and Sulphur, Louisiana. Local police in these small towns made millions
of dollars in profits by trolling the interstate highways and stopping travelers with out of state tags.
The police typically claimed some traffic infraction, asked permission to search the car and got it, found no
drugs but some cash, then brought in a drug sniffing dog, and after getting it to "alert," seized all the
train: "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
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
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: The
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is our nation's largest law enforcement
agency. Armed with virtually unlimited power, it collects not only taxes,
but intimate details about the personal lives of virtually every American.
Not So Eminent Domain. On June 23,
2005, the U.S. Supreme Court said that New London, Connecticut, could force the sale of Susette Kelo's house.
The question before the court had been whether the city's plan for her neighborhood — private condos,
a privately owned hotel, and laboratories for a private-sector corporation, Pfizer Inc. — was a
"public use" under the 5th Amendment of the Constitution. The city said it was, because it would
generate taxes and jobs. Five of the nine members of the court swallowed that argument. By
one vote, Susette Kelo lost.