Monday, August 24, 2009

Property: the foundation of all rights

The Cato Institute is a non-profit public policy research foundation whose mission is "to increase the understanding of public policies based on the principles of limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and peace."

They produce numerous publications, including a Handbook for Policymakers that focuses on issues with recommendations. I thought this portion dealing with Property Rights was very informative and am sharing it with you. I hope you'll read the entire chapter.

34. Property Rights and the Constitution

America’s Founders understood clearly that private property is the foundation not only of prosperity but of freedom itself. Thus, through the common law, state law, and the Constitution they protected property rights—the rights of people to freely acquire, use, and dispose of property. With the growth of modern government, however, those rights have been seriously compromised. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has yet to develop a principled, much less comprehensive, theory for remedying those violations. That failure has led to the birth of the property rights movement in state after state. It is time now for Congress to step in—to correct its own violations and to set out a standard that courts might notice as they adjudicate complaints about state violations. In the Property Rights and the Constitution chapter of the Cato Handbook for Policymakers, Roger Pilon explains why Congress should:

- Enact legislation, to guide federal agencies and to provide notice by the courts, that outlines the constitutional rights of property owners under the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause,

- Follow the traditional common law in defining "private property," "public use," and "just compensation,"

- Treat property taken through regulation the same as property taken through physical seizure, and

- Provide a single forum in which property owners may seek injunctive relief and just compensation promptly.


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