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KRUSE REPORT: Erosion of Private Property Rights
Start Date: 3/15/2013Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 3/15/2013End Time: 11:59 PM
Entry Description

By State Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn)

The right to private property is a fundamental freedom under the U.S. Constitution. With that right, Americans have the authority to own, sell and manage their personal property in accordance with the law.

Our Founding Fathers understood these rights are vital to a free and prosperous society, and they protected private property in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which reads, “No person shall be… deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” This idea dates back to hundreds of years before the Constitution’s formation, setting the tone for future laws to follow it.

However, the expansion of government over the last 100 years has lessened these rights. One of the most famous examples is the Supreme Court’s 2005 ruling in Kelo v. the City of New London.  This case dealt with the issue of eminent domain in the sense that private property could be transferred from one private owner to another if a government entity deemed the decision in the best economic interest of the community. After much debate, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the City of New London’s use of eminent domain in this fashion. The court held that “public use” under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment could also be interpreted as “public purpose” as long as the government planned to use the property to benefit the community. With this ruling, the prospect of any American’s personal property being taken away and given to another citizen more favorable to the government became a real possibility.

Another example of the erosion of property rights is the Obama administration’s attempt to expand the Clean Water Act. This act gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) control over “navigable waters,” allowing a government agency to set quality standards for bodies of water in the federal government’s jurisdiction.

In 2011, the Obama administration introduced a guidance document to "identify waters protected by the Clean Water Act." In the document, the EPA sought to amend the act from “navigable waters” to any scope of private water that could possibly have an effect on federally controlled water. The rationale behind it was that sources of water, such as ditches and gullies, could overflow from excessive rainfall and cause pollution in navigable waters. In response to the amendment, U.S. senators proposed legislation to stop this expansion of regulation and infringement on property rights.

Limitations like the Clean Water Act often pose serious threats to Americans’ management of their property.  They make it more difficult for people to build or farm on their own property by forcing them to jump through the hoops of burdensome government standards. Instead of encouraging government overreach, our laws should give individuals more authority over their personal property.

As legislators, our key responsibility is to uphold the Constitution and the rights of the people. Limiting government regulation is an important component to ensuring those freedoms. What do you think?

Contact Information:
Name: Tracy Lytwyn
Phone: 317-234-9221
Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
  • Announcements
  • Category:
  • Government
  • Agency Name
    Senate Republican Caucus

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