October 30, 2019

Shall not be Infringed (Unless it's a Property Right)

Timothy Birdnow

"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.”

John Adams

Municipal police in Greenwood Village, Colorado blew up a guys house trying to dislodge a trespassing shoplifter - and they refused to pay for it. To add insult to injury they won in court when the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it wasn't an illegal taking, so the homeowner gets nothing.

From the article:

But now it was just a neighborhood crime scene, the suburban home where an armed Walmart shoplifting suspect randomly barricaded himself after fleeing the store on a June afternoon in 2015. For 19 hours, the suspect holed up in a bathroom as a SWAT team fired gas munition and 40-millimeter rounds through the windows, drove an armored vehicle through the doors, tossed flash-bang grenades inside and used explosives to blow out the walls.

The suspect was captured alive, but the home was utterly destroyed, eventually condemned to be demolished by the City of Greenwood Village.

That left Leo Lech’s son, John Lech — who lived there with his girlfriend and her 9-year-old son — without a home. The city refused to compensate the Lech family for their losses but offered $5,000 in temporary rental assistance and for the insurance deductible.

Now, after the Leches sued, a federal appeals court has decided what else the city owes the Lech family for destroying their house more than four years ago: nothing.

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit unanimously ruled that the city is not required to compensate the Lech family for their lost home because it was destroyed by police while they were trying to enforce the law, rather than taken by eminent domain.

The Lechs had sued under the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause, which guarantees citizens compensation if their property is seized by the government for public use. But the court said that Greenwood Village was acting within its "police power” when it damaged the house, which the court said doesn’t qualify as a "taking” under the Fifth Amendment. The court acknowledged that this may seem "unfair,” but when police have to protect the public, they can’t be "burdened with the condition” that they compensate whoever is damaged by their actions along the way.

"It just goes to show that they can blow up your house, throw you out on the streets and say, ‘See you later. Deal with it,’ ” Leo Lech said in an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday. "What happened to us should never happen in this country, ever.”

Aren't municipalities required to maintain insurance for such things? They wrecked the guys house. They should have to pay for it, then try to get the money from the man they were pursuing. 

This hearkens back to the decrease in respect for property rights. We have allowed the State to whittle these right down to the point where your car can be seized if a passenger in it has a miniscule amount of drugs on them, for example. We also see this when corporations want land to develop; they simply use eminent domain to take it. We've seen it with the EPA seizing land from people for environmental reasons. It has been an ongoing war.

It ultimately goes back to the Civil Rights Act of 1964; no matter how well intentioned, that act fundamentally redefined the relationship between the individual and the State. Prior to that a property owner determined who could enter his property, who he would serve as a businessman, etc. He was king of his castle. After the Civil Rights Act we had the idea of "public acommodation" which meant that, well, you own your property, but the State can tell you what to do with it.

This had been coming for some time, granted; Roosevelt was particularly guilty of undermining property rights, as was Hoover and Wilson. But the Civil Rights Act systematically wiped out the concept of private property. We now do not question the right of the State to order us around.

And we no longer think the State has no right to invade property - or seize it, or even destroy it.

That is clearly what happened in this case.

Private property is the cornerstone of Western Civilization and especially American liberty. I wrote about this years ago at American Thinker. See here  and here. See also my piece from Canada Free Press.

Hot pursuit of a criminal does not give paramilitary cops the right to blow up somebody's house then not pay for it. Either we have property rights or we don't, and if the State can destroy your property, you do not have property rights. Without that, you have no rights at all.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 09:47 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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