- - Monday, June 26, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Liberty is slowly dying in this nation. The battles where liberty dies are mostly not the headline grabbing stories, but instead small cuts that help reduce this nation to despotism.

One of the cornerstones of liberty in America is property rights.  In other nations, past and present, the sovereign could take a citizen’s property and the citizen was simply out of luck.  Our founding fathers so feared the power of the government to take private property that they included what is known as the “takings clause” in the Fifth Amendment. 

The Fifth Amendment is one of the most expansive amendments to the United States Constitution and it includes the takings clause; which states, “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Recently, the committee of nine unelected lawyers known as the Supreme Court gutted the Fifth Amendment.  The case was called Murr v. Wisconsin. 

In the Murr case, a family in Wisconsin owned two lots. On one, they built a nice cabin and the other they left undeveloped. The family at some point planned to sell the second lot at a profit.   While the Murr family waited and their lot appreciated to $400,000 estimated value, the State of Wisconsin changed the rules. 

The Murr family wanted to sell the one lot and keep their cabin. But under the new rules, the only allowable buyer for the lot was the State of Wisconsin. And the State of Wisconsin told them even more good news. If they wanted to sell, they would have to sell both of their lots, and the State of Wisconsin, the only permitted buyer, would only pay them $40,000.

The Murr family was outraged and sued under the takings clause.  The Murrs (correctly) contended that by changing the rules after the family had bought the land and reducing the value, the government had taken their property.

In an utterly horrible decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that what Wisconsin did was not a taking under the U.S. Constitution. 

In 2005, the Supreme Court decided the case of Kelso v. City of New London. In that case, the City of New London sought to use eminent domain to take private property for not a government purpose but for to be sold to another private company. 

The idea that a private company could use the government to force an unwilling seller to give up their property is repugnant to liberty.  Now, thanks to the Supreme Court, states are now free to change the rules and deprive someone of the value of property.

The Supreme Court is accelerating the movement of Americans from being property owners to being serfs.  Under serfdom, serfs were bound to the land and were responsible for the land, even though they never received any benefit from the land.

Surveys show that fewer millennials are interested in property ownership. Why should they be?  With the latest ruling from the Supreme Court, property owners in this nation are only one step above being serfs.  Why would anyone want to spend their wealth on property the government can take at whim.

America is on the road to serfdom and that road is paved with bad Supreme Court decisions.

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