Land Owners Win Right to Challenge Feds Over Control of Private Property

When 56 men placed their lives on the line when they signed the Declaration of Independence, they did so with the intent of providing Americans the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Also among those rights was the right to own and control property.

Under a socialist government, few people have the right to own and control property. The government assumes ownership and control of private property, depriving the people of the rights that we value here in the United States.

However, as our government has started adopting socialistic agendas, they have followed the patterns of other socialist nations. One of those patterns is taking control of private property by means of the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers.

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In 2012, I wrote about how the Army Corp of Engineers sought to control 20 acres of privately owned desert land by deeming a dry desert wash as a waterway of the United States of America. Peter and Frankie Smith from the Santa Fe, New Mexico area took the Army Corps of Engineers to court over the issue.

In 2012, I also wrote about Mike and Chantell Sackett of Priest Lake, Idaho. They had purchased a whopping two-thirds of an acre in a new development with the plan to build their dream home. The couple spent three days hauling in dirt to level off the property, when the once again the Army Corps of Engineers flexed their Marxist muscles and ordered the Sacketts to stop. According to the Army Corps, the piece of property the couple purchased could not be filled in or altered in any way because they declared it be protected wetlands. Like the Smiths, the Sacketts took their case to the courts and eventually all the way to the US Supreme Court who ruled in favor of the Sacketts.

John Rapanos owned 20 acres of land in Michigan. He wanted to build a shopping center on his land, but the Environmental Protection Agency ordered him to stop construction slapped him with fines. Although his property was 20 miles away from the nearest waterway, the EPA used the waterway and wetlands to prevent Rapanos from developing his own land. His lawsuit against the EPA, who claimed no private citizen had the right challenge them, also made it to the US Supreme Court where a 4-1-4 decision barely went in Rapanos’ favor.

Now I read about another case where the Army Corps of Engineers tried to take control of land own by The Hawkes Co. Inc., Pierce Investment Company and LPF Properties. The land in question is located in New Maine Township, Marshall Country, Minnesota. The Army Corps of Engineers deemed the property as wetlands, placing it under the regulatory authority of the Corps. ‘

Like so many other cases, the Army Corps of Engineers argued that the land owners had no right to challenge their regulatory control. A lower court upheld the Corps argument, so the case was appealed to the Eighth US Circuit Court of Appeals. The 8th Circuit Court overturned the lower court ruling, stating that landowners have a right to judicial review when agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA label their lands as wetlands and assuming regulatory control.

Many of the land owners in these cases turned to the Pacific Legal Foundation for representation in court. In the latest case, PLF Principal Attorney M. Reed Hopper commented:

“This historic ruling is great news for everyone who values accountability in government and Americans’ access to justice. When Clean Water Act officials assert control over someone’s private property, they should be prepared to defend, in court, their claim that the property is, in fact, jurisdictional wetlands. Their decisions should not be insulated from scrutiny and examination, as if the regulators were a law unto themselves.”

I’m not sure the ruling would have been as favorable had the case been appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which is the most liberal and anti-American court in the United States.

If you know of anyone who had a run in with either the Army Corp of Engineers or the EPS over undo federal regulatory control of their private property, please send them to the Pacific Legal Foundation for help. It’s organizations like this that fight for our constitutional rights that are so quickly being stolen from us.

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