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Conservatives are Lost, Part 324

For those who still can't accept that the current ruling conservatives have shed any last remnants of their libertarian / small-government allies, here's this (sorry, I am a little late on this one):

The latest property rights case to hit the U.S. Supreme Court is a doozy. Quick background: Harvey Frank Robbins bought a piece of land in Wyoming. The previous owner had agreed in principle to give the federal government an easement over the land. But the government agents neglected to record the easement, so Robbins obtained the land without it. The federal government came back to reclaim the easement, and Robbins refused.

In the Legal Times  Tim Sandefur explains what happened next:

“The federal government doesn’t negotiate,” one official told him. Instead, they promised that Robbins’ refusal would “come to war” and that they would give him a “hardball education.” Then they began a vendetta against him that would last to the present day.

They cancelled his right of way over government-owned land, repeatedly harassed the guests at his ranch, cited him for minor infractions while letting similar violations by his neighbors go unnoticed, and brought him up on criminal charges of interfering with federal agents during their duties. The jury acquitted him after deliberating for less than 30 minutes.

After enduring years of such treatment, Robbins sued, arguing, among other things, that the BLM agents had violated his Fifth Amendment right to exclude others from his property.

The 10th Circuit ruled for Robbins, but the federal government appealed. Conservatives in particular should take note of the stunning argument from U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement:

“No court,” said Solicitor General Paul Clement in his brief, has “ever recognized a constitutional right against retaliation . . . in the context of property rights.”

Posted on April 5, 2007 at 02:26 PM | Permalink


There's so much that's just not made clear in the stories about this, but it IS clear that government retaliation and harassment happened. And to have a government representative ADMIT it, when the mistake was clearly that of the government, is entirely appalling. Regardless of the circumstances of the land transfer, the actions of the government to harass a citizen like this are just pathetic. It makes me ashamed that jerks like that supposedly 'represent' me.

Posted by: Highway | Apr 5, 2007 3:26:07 PM

Nazis. On a small scale, admittedly, but then one has to start somewhere.

Posted by: dearieme | Apr 5, 2007 3:41:04 PM

Stories of harrassment such as this are quite common here in the West and have many of us property owners concerned for the future. I recently had an issue with the Department of Natural Resources regarding a ditch that flows off USFS land and onto my property. They had decided to "reclaim" the ditch due to enviornmentalist protests. In addition to denying me my water rights, they attempted to bill me for the reclaimation of the ditch (somewhere around $50,000) which had been built in 1908. Fortunately a good lawyer fought off the charges for reclaimation although I have lost my water rights. I've finally concluded that the only solution to USFS "terrorism" is to sell all public lands to pay off debt. This would also privatize our National Parks. If the Sierra Club and other "environmental groups" want motor-free parks they can buy some and the rest can run by operators like Disneyland. It would be best for everyone.

Posted by: Montana | Apr 6, 2007 7:50:23 PM

Or by Warren!

Posted by: M. Hodak | Apr 7, 2007 2:36:38 PM

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