Rep. Tom Reed’s Big Flats Town Hall Meeting was promoted to be a discussion on his proposed “Defense of Property Rights Act”, as well as other topics. Rep. Reed started explaining it right after the pledge to the flag, There was not his usual News from Washington segment. I didn’t count the people who attended, but the Big Flats Town Hall staff had to bring out some extra chairs.
There were discussions about landowners loosing their gas leases which were countered by people owning property within a few miles from the proposed Crestwood LPG storage area near Seneca Lake. Rep. Reed spoke of the Property Rights Caucus which he helped organized—how his concept of being able to sue the government if they make decisions that affect the value of your property is being embraced by members of both parties.
Then a pivotal point was presented which may prove to be a critical barrier in process of turning Rep. Reed’s Act into law: Using the present interpretation of the Supreme Court, Rep. Reed’s proposed law is unconstitutional. And Rep. Reed agrees!
Attorney Leslie Danks Burke said, “You and I are also attorneys and we both have taken constitutional law. So we both understand this jurisprudence stuff. I appreciate that you started out this conversation mentioning the legislation that you are proposing is not in accordance to the constitution as it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court. At this point the Supreme Court says that your proposed legislation is unconstitutional because your proposed legislation creates this 20 percent threshold.”
Rep. Reed rapidly replied, “Absolutely That is why I fundamentally disagree with the Supreme Court’s interpretation.”
Ms Danks Burke responded, “Ok. I think that is part of the reason some of us think that your legislation does not have much of a shot of passing…”
Rep. Reed defended himself, “Just as you know, Supreme Courts have a tendency over the years to change course and interpret the constitution both ways. We’re trying to be part of the effort to stand with the property owners and the individuals and say to the court as well as the nation that this is the voice that needs to be respected.”
The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution contains the Eminent Domain clause, which gives the government the right to acquire property for public use. It also states that the landowner shall receive “just compensation” for the land. There would need to be a massive change in the constitution, or interpretation of the constitution, to expand the compensation provision to include what Rep. Reed is proposing in his “Defense of Property Right’s Act.”
Anyone can claim that something is unconstitutional. Look at all who have declared the SAFE Act is unconstitutional by both the Federal AND the New York State’s Constitution, but the Courts have not. This is not just another blogger declaring Rep. Reed’s proposal doesn’t mustard the Constitutional standard, it is another attorney, and she justifies her opinion by using the constitution itself. More importantly Rep. Reed agrees with her! To me, the answer he gave about the Supreme Court might change their mind sometime is just telling me that he is preparing to use this ploy for the long haul–to drum up support for campaigns to come.
Ms Danks Burke then asked, “So my question is by creating the 20 percent threshold you are actually creating a massive entitlement program that will have to be paid for somehow. Somehow instead of only compensating landowners for full “takings” which is constitutional right now, you’re going to have to pay landowners who have only a partial “taking”, which is currently unconstitutional.
(At this point she was interrupted by a crowd member yelling: “How about if you get it so it actually prohibits or stops the government from the damn taking in the first place.” There was just silence, he received no response, then she continued.)
“So how do you plan to pay for this massive new entitlement program which the state will have to compensate not just for full taking but for partial taking?”
Rep. Reed’s response was his general defense that local governments should think twice and examine the situation to see if it is worth the cost the government will have to pay to the so called harmed individuals.
Ms Danks Burke: That gets to a second constitutional problem that I have with your legislation. What you’re saying is you are attempting as a Federal government to come in a quell state action. You are attempting to have the federal government to come in and force the state government to do what you want. I think that is a States’ Rights concern.
Rep. Reed: Well we’ve opened it up. The individual has the right to pursue their claims in state court as well as federal court. So we are giving both avenues of relief.
Ms Danks Burke: I heard you say that you are asking the federal government to quell state action. Is that not what you are saying?
Rep. Reed: Local Government. To make sure local government to take this into consideration for individuals.
Ms Danks Burke: To make sure local government does what you ask.
Rep. Reed: We may disagree. You want to stand on the side of big government. I get it.
Ms Danks Burke: I oppose to big government guys like you to come in and tell my municipality what to do.
Rep. Reed: We recognize that local government can still take action, but it needs to think it through all of the way. I don’t think local government does it as good for individuals today as it did.
View the above conversation and the discussion of States’ Rights:
Other articles about Rep. Reed’s Defense of Property Rights Act: