The League of Statists Versus Your Rights

The December 30 piece A Veteran Gets Criminal Treatment and Censored over Chickens describes the statist treatment of veteran Leo Hendrick and his chickens by the City of Northwood, Iowa.

Nearly all of the comments to the article expressed disdain for what the city did and how they did it.  One even referenced, I'm glad to write, the Ninth Amendment, which states, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

James Madison insisted upon the Ninth Amendment because he knew the tendency of government to construe its power too broadly.  And, as I wrote, "[The Northwood city lawyer] is typical of lawyers for the government:  Power must be served, and the Constitution must be read as narrowly as possible when that fits the government's interests."

One commenter to the article about Mr. Hendrick wrote:

It is rather interesting that no one brought up the portion of the US Constitution that has the most - indeed, the only - bearing on this case; the 10th Amendment.

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The Constitution does not delegate zoning authority to the United States nor does it prohibit it to the states, so it is reserved to the states. All the states in turn delegate authority to the local municipalities. This is something we all like to remember when the Federal government violates the 10th so why do we ignore it in this case? Fitzgibbons is typical of so many schlock lawyers; when the law does not favor his case, he resorts to grandstanding and emotional appeal. The question is simple; did Hendrick violate the ordinance or didn't he? His status as a veteran, what flag he flies, what business he owns, the laws in other communities, etc. have no bearing whatsoever on this case. Now, if he can demonstrate that the law is not being evenly enforced, that opens legal options for him outside the case. In addition he can fight to get the ordinance overturned (just as he fought the gun ban) and if enough people support him, it should be doable. He can run for election and fight it up close and personal. Or he can move to a community that has no problems with chickens, pigs, cows, etc. in the back yard.

The commenter relies on the Tenth Amendment, but the Tenth Amendment does not allow states to violate rights.  The Ninth Amendment, indeed the entire Bill of Rights, is now clearly recognized as applying to the states via the 14th Amendment. 

The story about Mr. Hendrick is as much about how Northwood muzzled him at trial as it is about how he fought City Hall.  Northwood's attorney filed a motion barring Mr. Hendrick from making statements about how the ordinance was being enforced and how he sought to change the ordinance.  Government makes then rigs the rules against our liberties.

Most abuses of property rights by government never come to light because most victims comply with government's egregious and even unlawful demands and conditions.  Those who speak out are typically targeted for more abuse. 

We are also seeing national forces use local jurisdictions to violate property rights.  The Tenth Amendment is becoming less effective operationally against federal infringements due to such collaboration.

The Obama administration has figured out that local government is ripe for violating property rights.  One of President Obama's recent executive orders created a Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to, among other things, "identify changes that must be made to land- and water-related policies, programs, and regulations to strengthen the climate resilience of our watersheds, natural resources, and ecosystems, and the communities and economies that depend on them."

The National Association of Counties proudly touted that three of its members were appointed to the Task Force.

As to other rights that the Tenth Amendment does not authorize zoning laws to violate, a good example is how Virginia farmer Martha Boneta was threatened with fines under zoning laws for having a birthday party for eight little girls.  Martha's fight helped expose an ugly side of zoning laws.

The Virginia Code authorizing localities to regulate land use was fundamentally formed in 1962 in the then-Democrat controlled state, five years before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia

Any civil libertarian who reads the Virginia Code is immediately struck by how it created a system for discrimination based on subjective standards and easy violations of due process.  This system of discrimination is now being employed to pick real estate and business winners and losers, or to cite farmers for birthday parties.

For these and many other reasons, it was especially good to receive an email the day of the Leo Hendrick article from The Rutherford Institute, which is at the forefront of the fight against the many violations of our constitutional rights that occur daily.

Writes The Rutherford Institute about the erosion of private property rights:

If the government can tell you what you can and cannot do within the privacy of your home, whether it relates to what you eat or what you smoke, you no longer have any rights whatsoever within your home. If government officials can fine and arrest you for growing vegetables in your front yard, praying with friends in your living room, installing solar panels on your roof, and raising chickens in your backyard, you're no longer the owner of your property . . . If government agents can invade your home, break down your doors, kill your dog, damage your furnishings and terrorize your family, your property is no longer private and secure-it belongs to the government . . .This is what a world without the Fourth Amendment looks like, where the lines between private and public property have been so blurred that private property is reduced to little more than something the government can use to control, manipulate and harass you to suit its own purposes, and you the homeowner and citizen have been reduced to little more than a tenant or serf in bondage to an inflexible landlord.

Liberty and property rights are protected by the bold, such as John Whitehead and his Rutherford Institute, Leo Hendrick and Martha Boneta.  They need our help.