End the Assault on Private Property
March 29, 2007
Irvine, CA--The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard arguments in the case of Wilkie v. Robbins. The case began when Harvey Frank Robbins refused to grant an easement over his land to agents of the Bureau of Land Management. In response, the agents initiated a campaign of harassment against Robbins that included trespassing on his property and leaving it in disarray, videotaping his guests, and asking the Bureau of Indian Affairs to impound Robbins's cattle. In its arguments to the Supreme Court, the government maintained that retaliation of this sort is within the government's just powers. In his brief to the Court, Solicitor General Paul Clement put it bluntly: "There is no Fifth Amendment right against retaliation for the exercise of property rights."
"This grotesque claim is an affront to the very foundations of the United States," said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. "This country was founded on the premise that government is the servant of its citizens and exists only to protect their rights, including the right to property. If individuals can be harassed and punished by government goons for exercising their property rights, then the right to property is nothing but a pretense and a sham.
"Property rights have long been under attack in America, from environmental regulations to zoning laws to smoking bans to eminent domain. This latest assault is merely the logical extension of such policies: if the government can tell us how to use our property, or take it away without our consent, then there is no reason we shouldn't face the wrath of bitter bureaucrats when we refuse to do their bidding.
"This war on property rights threatens all of our rights. The right to property means the right to use and dispose of the products of our productive effort. If the government has the power to dictate how we use and dispose of these products--if it can tell us what to do with our cash, cars, or land--then we are no longer free to act on our own judgment. We are no longer in control of our lives and able to pursue our happiness.
"To resist this alarming assault on liberty, Americans must reject the vicious attack on property rights. We must declare our right to use and dispose of our property as we see fit, without fear of government coercion and retribution."
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