Friday, June 27, 2008

As a lawyer who helped defend against the takings claims in the case James L. Huffman describes in “Property rights and wrongs” (Commentary, Thursday), I was struck by how misleading and unfair Mr. Huffman’s column is.

Mr. Huffman implies that Judge Loren Smith found the government had to pay compensation to Wayne Hage for taking private property when it “refused to renew some of Mr. Hage’s grazing permits” and “twice impounded his cattle.” Judge Smith, however, rejected these and other very broad claims by Mr. Hage and his wife, Jean.

Judge Smith specifically reiterated his previous ruling “that Plaintiffs did not have a property interest in grazing permits that could give rise to a taking claim.”

Indeed, anyone who read the opinion could not miss the boldface subhead:

“B. The Impoundment of Plaintiffs’ Cattle was not a Taking”

Mr. Huffman also repeats the laughable old canard that “There is no mystery why the nation’s leading environmental groups weighed in against the Hages. They find property rights and productive use of the land anathema to their anti-development, preservationist agenda.”

As I have explained in countless law review articles, book chapters, testimony, fact sheets, letters, etc.: Environmental groups strongly support the Fifth Amendment’s balanced protection of private property and oppose unwarranted takings claims because they threaten a wide range of protections of private property, people and public resources that do not take private property rights. For example, see my 1997 Fordham Environmental Law Review article “Takings Bills Threaten Private Property, People and the Environment.”


Senior judicial counsel



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