One result of the American Revolution was the strengthening of personal property rights. The Fifth Amendment of our Constitution outlines and defines this belief. It sets limits concerning government intrusion.

One result of the use of government eminent domain powers has come to be known as “taking.” Government taking has manifested in two forms: 1) a land grab, or 2) the imposition of weighty government regulations. In theory, the government must reimburse the property owner the fair market value for most seizures.

New York City lawyer Adam Bailey said in 2012: “When looking at rent stabilization from a constitutional point of view, two facts clearly emerge. First, it is clearly unconstitutional. Second, no judge subject to reelection or reappointment is going to agree with the first point. Thus, if anyone seeks to bring suit to establish the undeniable fact that rent stabilization cannot pretend to be constitutional, it will have to be to a federal district court.”

In a 1922 opinion, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said: “The general rule … is that while property may be regulated to a certain extent, if regulation goes too far, it will be recognized as a taking. … In general it is not plain that a man’s misfortunes or necessities will justify his shifting the damages to his neighbor’s shoulders. We are in danger of forgetting that a strong public desire to improve the public condition is not enough to warrant achieving the desire by a shorter cut than the constitutional way of paying for the change.”

Timothy Robinson
Portland

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