Federal and state governments seem to be making a practice of abusing the Constitution’s protections for property owners, circumventing their rights through regulatory takings. By restricting the use of a property owner through regulatory restriction, thus diminishing his or her ability to freely exercise their rights to use, the government effectively “seizes” the land without compensating the landowner for the diminished rights.
For a more comprehensive look at this issue, we recommend this document published by the Cato Institute, which can be downloaded in its entirety here. An excerpt from the full document is included below.
With regard to regulatory takings, however, the crucial thing to notice is that, absent contractual arrangements to the contrary, the right to acquire and hold property entails the right to use and dispose of it as well. As Madison said, people have ‘‘a property’’ in their rights. If the right to property did not entail the right of use, it would be an empty promise. People acquire property, after all, only because doing so enables them to use it, which is what gives it its value.
Indeed, the fundamental complaint about uncompensated regulatory takings is that, by thus eliminating the uses from property, government makes the title itself meaningless, which is why it is worthless. Who would buy ‘‘property’’ that cannot be used?