Not long ago, Congressman Paul Broun, M.D., (R-GA) celebrated Constitution Day (September 18) by introducing H. Res. 748, a resolution upholding the property rights of all Americans. Broun’s initiative came on the 222ndanniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution by the Founding Fathers. 

While celebrating the anniversary of the Constitution, Broun was quick to point out the mounting threats to one of the document’s most cherished provisions.  “Unfortunately, government has grown out of control, and it’s far different today from what our Founders established, he pointed out.  “As an original-intent constitutionalist, I believe the federal government was not established to direct every detail of our lives, but to protect freedom and liberty.” 

“Our Founding fathers knew that our liberties were only as secure as our property rights,” Broun noted.  “Yet too often, our federal, state, and local governments continue to ignore and even fail to understand the importance of property rights.” 

By placing property rights in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution and Article 1, the Founders made the protection of property rights a primary aim of the newly formed American government.  And, as a statement released by Broun’s office points out, “[T]here is no provision in Article 1, Section 8, or anywhere else in the Constitution that allows the unnecessary, predatory seizure of private land.” 

Despite the Founders’ best intentions, landowners throughout the U.S. has seen their property rights – and their livelihoods — undermined by a slew of government actions resulting from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the wetlands provisions of the Clean Water Act (CWA).  Numerous lawsuits filed by environmental groups under the ESA and the CWA have led to rural landowners losing the economic use of their land.  In one celebrated case in California in the 1990s, landowners saw their property go up in smoke, because the ESA prohibited them from building fire-breaks on their land for the sake of protecting an endangered rat.   

Currently, Dr. Broun’s resolution has 50 co-sponsors – 46 Republicans and 4 Democrats — and more members are expected to sign on.