Property rights strengthened; politicians liable
forwarded by Jackie Juntti
6/24/02 - The following is a condensation of a
pre-meeting interview with Howard Hutchinson, Executive Director of
the Coalition of Arizona/New Mexico Counties, and featured speaker at
the September 1, 2000 meeting of the Scenic Rivers Watershed
Partnership in Salem, Missouri.
Environmentalists and Liberals are up in arms, Mr. Hutchinson
says, about recent Supreme Court rulings that strengthen individual
rights and hold public officials PERSONALLY AND FINANCIALLY
RESPONSIBLE FOR HARM
TO OWNERS OF PRIVATE PROPERTY resulting from the enforcement of
federal laws such as the Endangered Species Act. The Supreme Court has
consistently ruled and now reinforced citizen lawsuits against
individual County, State or federal employees in their personal
capacity to protect Constitutionally guaranteed rights. Congress and
the federal government are prohibited from authorizing the filing of a
lawsuit under federal statute by an individual against a State.
Historically, environmental groups protesting local
environmental matters used the back door tactic of filing suit against
the federal Environmental Protection Agency or Fish And Wildlife
Service under the ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT, CLEAN WATER ACT, CLEAN AIR
ACT, or other federal law. The federal agency negotiated a settlement,
and then issued regulations to force the State to comply with the
settlement negotiated with the environmental group.
Under this 'scenario, if an environmental group files suit
against, say, the Forest Service or EPA, and the federal agency
settles and attempts to force the settlement on a State, unless the
State agrees to implement the conditions that the federal agency puts
into place, the State can't be forced to comply with the settlement.
If the state does not elect to intervene in the case or does not
object, the ruling will be enforced by the court.
If the State complies with the settlement that was reached
between the federal agency and the environmental group, any citizen
who is harmed by that settlement may sue under the Civil Rights Act.
Recent Supreme Court decisions dissolve the old argument that,
if Congress is popularly elected, and Congress passes a law, then the
law must be in the Public Interest and therefore is authorized by the
Constitution's General Welfare clause or the Interstate Commerce
clause, allowing Congress to pass any law it wants whether
Constitutional or not.
Congress has assumed that the 14th Amendment allowed passage of any
law deemed necessary to enforce provisions of the 14th Amendment. Now,
the Supreme Court says no, the 14th Amendment is limited to protection
of individual rights.
The 14th Amendment guarantees due process and equal application of the
law. If a City, County or State official enters into an agreement
without your permission, and your property rights are harmed by that,
the official may become liable for property takings and for denial of
due process and equal application of the law.
The burden is on the government entity to prove that the charge
against them is in error.
As soon as people begin to understand what this means, there will be
enormous changes in the roles and responsibilities of Federal, State
and local officials. It may take a few suits against individual office
holders and individuals within government agencies to start performing
the way they're supposed to be performing.
People seek political office, by and large, with altruistic
motivations. They really want to do a good job. But they haven't
understood the responsibility that goes with that office. When
they raise their right hand and put their hand on the Bible and
swear to uphold the Constitution, it's been empty.
Well, now it's very full of meaning. And they've not been taught
that. They've never understood exactly what they were swearing that
The Supreme Court says that under the Constitution there is
political accountability. Environmental groups and Liberals understand
When an environmental group files suit to create Wild And Scenic
Rivers, or Wilderness Designations, or Roadless Areas, or enforcement
of the Clean Water Act, or land withdrawn for the Indiana Bat, under
this legal theory, they exercise power delegated to them by a Congress
that did not have that power in the first place.
Wild And Scenic River designations and National Park Service
land acquisition under the Public Trust concept are now all up for
If you, as a class of citizen, have your property taken or your
due process denied, in favor' of another smaller class, you have a
legal cause of action. Government officials may not discriminate in
favor of a special interest over a property owner.
For this to be effective in restoring private property rights it's
going to take individuals with enough guts, and enough money, to fight
and win in court. This will be a major battle.
The larger battle is over whether or not we are going to accept
centralized Command And Control over our lives. Or, whether we retain
individual choice and responsibility in what we do and how we conduct
our own lives on our own property.
ii (THIS RULING PERTAINS TO ELECTED OR APPOINTED FEDERAL, STATE,
COUNTY AND CITY OFFICIALS.)
CONTACT FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Executive Director Arizona/New Mexico Coalition of Counties
P.O. Box 125
Glenwood, NM 88039
Telephone (505) 539-2709
U.S. SUPREME COURT DECISIONS INVOLVED
New York vs U.S.
Prince vs U.S. (Brady Bill)
Saenz vs Roe
Clinton vs New York
Seminole Tribe vs Florida
IDAHO v. COEUR d'ALENE TRIBE OF IDAHO
ALDEN vs MAINE.. June 23, 1999
(enhancing state rights/Federalism)