Free Liberal

Coordinating towards higher values

If it’s property they want, it’s property they’ll get

By Stephen Gordon

"Those who profess to favor freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." – Frederick Douglass

While this June has been filled with many “one brick short of a full load” Supreme Court decisions, clearly Kelo v. New London takes the cake. As readers of this website are already acutely aware, the Supreme Court decided to disregard basic property rights in favor of powerful special interest groups. Now is time to do something about it.

On June 15, 1215 A.D., in Runnymede, England, a piece of parchment was signed called Magna Carta – a crucial document which limited the power of the monarchy and affirmed the basic rights of the people in England. This one piece of paper is perhaps the most important single influence to the Constitution of the United States.

Article 39 of Magna Carta read, “No free man shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, banished nor shall we proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers and by the law of the land.”

The pertinent word in the sentence above is ‘disseise’, which is defined in this manner, “To put out of actual seisin or possession; to dispossess (a person) of his estates, etc., usually wrongfully or by force; to oust.”

From this, the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment of our Constitution was derived. It 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.”

With five swift strokes of their collectivist pens, the Supreme Court overturned nearly a millennium of tradition and common law with respect to private property ownership. In Kelo v. New London, the justices decided that not only may the government apply eminent domain in order to construct government roads and buildings, but they may now boot you out of your house if Wal-Mart or the local land developer wants your property.

In so doing, they have granted special status to the feudal lords of the 21st century, namely major corporations, development companies and local government fiefdoms – reverting our system of property ownership back to the dark ages.

Our Constitution is essentially the contract between the people and our government. While the government frequently reneges on this trust, this is perhaps the most egregious case since the birth of our nation. Many are already stating that the decision in Kelo renders the contract null and void.

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men, generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to put out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?”

In this spirit, his and our predecessors dumped tea in the Boston Harbor. Already, many are calling for civil disobedience. One man is attempting to use this decision to force Justice David Souter from his home -- so that he may establish the "The Lost Liberty Hotel" and "Just Desserts Café" in its place.

All of us may not have the opportunity to dispossess the Supremes of their fine homes. While humorous, some of us may even have moral qualms about the stealing part – even if it is from the enemy.

However, we have the opportunity to act in a totally moral and lawful manner in order to express our discontent. Let’s throw some serious sand into the gears of the government machine. They have asked for real property, so let us send it to them.

Real property (land) is composed primarily of dirt. The entire incident in Kelo is over who possesses a bunch of dirt.

The people in the area in which I live are proud of their soil – as is the case in most other places. Perhaps this eminent domain issue may be remedied by providing the landgrabbers a lot of dirt – enough dirt so they won’t have to steal it from the poor and the elderly again.

Radio talk show host Neal Boortz recently stated, “All property isn't dirt”. However, in this case, it is. Let’s give ’em some!

Some addresses to which you may mail your dirt are:

Dave Goebel
Chief Operating Officer
New London Development Corporation
165 State Street, Suite 313
New London, CT 06320

Richard M. Brown
City Manager
City of New London
181 State Street
New London, CT 06320

Justice John Paul Stevens
One First Street N.E.
Washington, DC 20543

Justice David H. Souter
One First Street N.E.
Washington, DC 20543

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
One First Street N.E.
Washington, DC 20543

Justice Stephen G. Breyer
One First Street N.E.
Washington, DC 20543

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy
One First Street N.E.
Washington, DC 20543

Stephen P. Gordon is a communications consultant specializing in political, public education, media relations and fundraising campaigns. He is the founder and President of Alabamians for Compassionate Use and the Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Alabama. He recently served as Communications Director for the Badnarik/Campagna 2004 campaign.