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On January 20, President Biden issued a proclamation that the government would stop construction on the US-Mexico border wall for 60 days to determine whether land needed to be confiscated to continue the project. The 60 days came and went with no decision, and now a federal judge has handed down a court order giving the government the go-ahead to seize one family’s private land for the wall.
Article by Patrick Carroll from FEE.
“The Cavazos family land is the target of one of 140 active cases that have continued under the Biden Administration,” the Texas Civil Rights Project said in a statement. “At least 114 of these cases have progressed since the President’s proclamation pause deadline on March 21, 2021.”
This morning in Texas, the @JoeBiden Administration seized the property of the Cavazos family for #borderwall construction, after being granted possession via court order. We are outraged. This outcome was avoidable had the administration simply dismissed the case outright. (1/4) pic.twitter.com/x2r8nRbUOX
— Texas Civil Rights Project (@TXCivilRights) April 13, 2021
This puts the Cavazoses in a tough situation. As ValleyCentral.com reported:
Jose ‘Fred’ Cavazos, the landowner, is 71-years-old and disabled but says the government is putting it on him to clear the land.
“I’m going to be left alone to take that barn down,” said Cavazos.
Another issue is that Cavazos makes part of his livelihood from renting land to tenants and the family worries that they will not be able to enter anymore.
The attorney for the family, Ricky Garza, was particularly dismayed. “Yesterday, we witnessed a betrayal of the Biden Administration’s commitment to end construction of the border wall,” he said. “In federal court, the President’s pause on border wall construction is meaningless without immediate action from the DOJ to dismiss these cases.”
Indeed, the fact that these cases are still going forward goes directly against what Biden had promised on the campaign trail. “There will not be another foot of wall constructed in my administration,” he said back in August. “What about the land confiscations?” he was asked. “End, end, end, stop, done, over,” he replied. “Not gonna do it. Withdraw the lawsuits. We’re out. We are not going to confiscate the land.”
The Nuances of Eminent Domain
The Cavazos family are only the latest victims of a long-running and pernicious legal doctrine: eminent domain.
The term traces back to the 17th-century legal philosopher Hugo Grotius who used the phrase dominium eminens, which is Latin for ‘supreme lordship.’ In his 1625 book On the Law of War and Peace, Grotius described the principle as follows:
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“The property of subjects is under the eminent domain of the state, so that the state or he who acts for it may use and even alienate and destroy such property, not only in the case of extreme necessity…but for ends of public utility.” His only qualifier was that “when this is done, the state is bound to make good the loss to those who lose their property.”
In the US, eminent domain must satisfy three criteria specified by the Fifth Amendment:
- The taking must be for “public use”
- The state must pay “just compensation”
- The taking must follow due process of law
While James Madison tried to be vigilant in his wording of the Fifth Amendment to avoid giving the government too much power (specifically by using the term “public use” instead of public purpose, interest, or benefit), the ambiguity of the terms has unfortunately allowed the government to use this power in a wide range of cases.
Consider, for example, the phrase “just compensation.” The established legal precedent is to define just compensation as “fair market value,” which is what the property would likely sell for if it were currently on the market. The problem, of course, is that value is subjective. Individual owners, such as the Cavazos family, may have a strong personal attachment to their property, such that the supposed market value is not nearly enough to compensate them for their loss.
So how does the government account for the subjective values of the owner? Well, according to the Supreme Court, they simply don’t, because they know they can’t. As the Court wrote in United States v. 50 Acres of Land, “just compensation must be measured by an objective standard that disregards subjective values which are only of significance to an individual owner.”
The “public use” clause has also been interpreted rather loosely, even though Madison had hoped to avoid this very problem. In the early 2000s, for example, the city of New London, Connecticut wanted to use eminent domain to condemn a neighborhood and give it to a private developer as part of a comprehensive redevelopment plan. The homeowners, including lead plaintiff Susette Kelo with her little pink house, argued that economic development by a private company didn’t constitute public use.
The case went to the Supreme Court in 2005, and in a 5-4 ruling the Court sided with the city on the grounds that the economic benefits and potential for increased tax revenue were sufficient justifications for calling the private development “public use.”
Suffice it to say, it was a very creative interpretation.
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And just to add insult to injury, the development plans actually fell through after the land was bulldozed. The area remains an empty lot to this day.
The Importance of Property Rights
Aside from the legal and moral issues, there are also economic problems with the practice of eminent domain. Chief among them is the fact that this policy tool allows governments to undermine the property rights of landowners.
The reason property rights are so crucial for economic well-being is that they provide predictability for the future. When people have secure property rights, they feel confident saving their resources and investing them in longer-term projects, because they know they will be able to reap the rewards at a later date. These investments lead to the creation of more capital, such as tools and machinery, which allows us to produce things more efficiently and thus leads to greater abundance.
When property rights are tenuous, however, people are reluctant to invest.
For example, say you want to build an addition to your house, perhaps to rent out the space or simply for your own enjoyment. The addition would take a considerable amount of time and money to build, but you’re quite sure it would be a net benefit for yourself and others if you were able to complete it.
Now imagine that politicians are thinking about taking your house using eminent domain. Even if they never follow through, the mere threat of losing your investment is probably enough to dissuade you from building the addition. Thus, you end up putting your resources toward other, less beneficial ends. In short, economic growth is curtailed.
The pivotal role that property rights play in the economy has also been highlighted in many studies. The Economic Freedom of the World Index, for example, has shown that countries with stronger property rights consistently outperform countries with weaker property rights on measures of well-being such as GDP per capita.
Though the US certainly has much stronger property rights than many other countries, eminent domain continues to be a pervasive problem. And sadly, landowners like the Cavazos family have little recourse if they are targeted. The state, after all, gets the final say.
I guess that’s why they call it “supreme lordship.”
‘The Purge’ by Big Tech targets conservatives, including us
Just when we thought the Covid-19 lockdowns were ending and our ability to stay afloat was improving, censorship reared its ugly head.
For the last few months, NOQ Report and the American Conservative Movement have appealed to our readers for assistance in staying afloat through Covid-19 lockdowns. The downturn in the economy has limited our ability to generate proper ad revenue just as our traffic was skyrocketing. We had our first sustained stretch of three months with over a million visitors in November, December, and January, but February saw a dip.
It wasn’t just the shortened month. We expected that. We also expected the continuation of dropping traffic from “woke” Big Tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, but it has actually been much worse than anticipated. Our Twitter account was banned. Both of our YouTube accounts were banned. Facebook “fact-checks” everything we post. Spotify canceled us. Medium canceled us. Apple canceled us. Why? Because we believe in the truth prevailing, and that means we will continue to discuss “taboo” topics.
The 2020 presidential election was stolen. You can’t say that on Big Tech platforms without risking cancellation, but we’d rather get cancelled for telling the truth rather than staying around to repeat mainstream media’s lies. They have been covering it up since before the election and they’ve convinced the vast majority of conservative news outlets that they will be harmed if they continue to discuss voter fraud. We refuse to back down. The truth is the truth.
The lies associated with Covid-19 are only slightly more prevalent than the suppression of valid scientific information that runs counter to the prescribed narrative. We should be allowed to ask questions about the vaccines, for example, as there is ample evidence for concern. One does not have to be an “anti-vaxxer” in order to want answers about vaccines that are still considered experimental and that have a track record in a short period of time of having side-effects, including death. One of our stories about the Johnson & Johnson “vaccine” causing blood clots was “fact-checked” and removed one day before the government hit the brakes on it. These questions and news items are not allowed on Big Tech which is just another reason we are getting canceled.
There are more topics that they refuse to allow. In turn, we refuse to stop discussing them. This is why we desperately need your help. The best way NOQ Report and ACM readers can help is to donate. Our Giving Fuel page makes it easy to donate one-time or monthly. Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal as well. We are on track to be short by about $4100 per month in order to maintain operations.
The second way to help is to become a partner. We’ve strongly considered seeking angel investors in the past but because we were paying the bills, it didn’t seem necessary. Now, we’re struggling to pay the bills. We had 5,657,724 sessions on our website from November, 2020, through February, 2021. Our intention is to elevate that to higher levels this year by focusing on a strategy that relies on free speech rather than being beholden to progressive Big Tech companies.
During that four-month stretch, Twitter and Facebook accounted for about 20% of our traffic. We are actively working on operating as if that traffic is zero, replacing it with platforms that operate more freely such as Gab, Parler, and others. While we were never as dependent on Big Tech as most conservative sites, we’d like to be completely free from them. That doesn’t mean we will block them, but we refuse to be beholden to companies that absolutely despise us simply because of our political ideology.
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We Often Feel Like David Taking on Giants
Today’s Goliath is the Mainstream Media Industrial Complex that brainwashes the masses.
Our mission is very straightforward: To counter the false narratives and nefarious agendas destroying America today. It isn’t easy for obvious reasons; despite incredible growth over the last year we are still a very tiny fish in a huge media pond. But we’re fighting and we will continue to do so, Lord willing, for as long as we possibly can. The battle for America’s present and future is too important for us to back down to the giants that stand in our way.
We need help. I don’t want to say “desperately,” but the need is definitely great. If you have the means, please donate through our GivingFuel page, PayPal, or our brand new GiveSendGo page. Your generosity is what keeps these sites running and allows us to get the truth to the masses. We’ve had great success in growing but we know we can do more with your assistance.
Thank you, and God Bless!