May 7, 2009 8:34AM

More Property Rights Shenanigans on the West Coast

Cato recently filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to review a Ninth Circuit decision that tramples on property rights. (See also this oped I co‐​authored with co‐​counsel.)

Well, tomorrow the Ninth Circuit hears another case involving property rights violations, and this time the plaintiffs, in exchange for a building permit, were forced to give up their right to vote. Arguing for the beleaguered property‐​owners will be none other than Cato adjunct scholar Tim Sandefur. You can read more about the case in Tim’s own blogpost on PLF’s site.

Here’s the basic principle with these cases: just as the government can’t take your property (for public use) without just compensation, it can’t attach arbitrary regulations and fees. After all, if you own an acre of land and the government tells you you can’t do anything on it — be it run around or drain puddles or build — it might as well have “taken” it by eminent domain. And if it says you can do these things only if you give up some other entitlement you have — not necessarily money, but, say, the right to put up signs criticizing the local government — it has imposed an unconstitutional condition on your enjoyment of your property.