The most important issue facing all Americans in their battle against the regulatory power of a growing central government is a very simple one: whether money is property.
In recent decades the federal government has grown at a much faster rate than the economy as a whole. And the power enabling it to affect — and often devastate — the finances of Americans is dependent upon the idea that local, state and Federal agencies can seize the wealth of Americans without any due process.
Due process may seem a distant and innocuous concept, yet its connection to the ability of government to regulate the lives of Americans is a crucial one, one that must be revisited soon if Americans are to live in an environment of free choice.
This is because the ability to levy fines — to take money away from citizens — is the lifeblood of most federal agencies. Here’s a simple comparison that illustrates the point: if a police officer gives you a ticket for a parking violation, the ticket has a court date on it. This court date allows you the opportunity to exercise your right to dispute the traffic violation. And the most important aspect of this is that you are automatically given this “due process,” the opportunity to challenge the parking violation, by the police department and local government. But an EPA official can fine a farmer $10,000 for spraying pesticide too close to a wetland, and there is no automatic hearing. Without due process there is no presumption of innocence.
The Constitution clearly states in Article V: “No person may… be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Due process means a hearing before a jJudge where the accused has the right to the presumption of innocence, legal notice of the hearing, discovery, and so on. No branch of government; local, state, or federal can take your property first and then allow you the opportunity for a hearing. The word “without” clearly means that a person may only be deprived of property after having been given due process safeguards.
If the Constitution were to state that no one could be deprived of liberty or money without due process, then the distinction would be more obvious. Right now bureaucracies confuse the issue and treat money as if it were not property.
That money does not seem to be property at this time has led to some conduct by government that the Constitution was written to prevent. In the state of Idaho a couple named the Sacketts obtained all the local permits necessary to build a house. Everything was properly done, according to the local building code. But the EPA noted that the couple raised the level of the site by adding dirt and stones, and fined the couple $75,000 per day until they complied with EPA guidelines. What made the Sackett case more disturbing is that the EPA refused to give the Sacketts a hearing. They had no way to challenge the EPA finding in court.
It is this loophole, the issue of “who decides” if due process takes place and when, that is the unconstitutional aspect. In the Sackett case the infamous Ninth Circuit Court ruled that the Clean Air Act precluded “pre-enforcement judicial review” and that such preclusion did not violate due process. The Fifth Amendment clearly does not allow any preclusions, and the Clean Air Act, or any other Congressional Act, cannot ban judicial review. All Congressional Acts must allow citizens the protection of the Constitution per the supremacy clause of the Constitution.
If I leave my wallet and pair of gloves on a bench seat of a restaurant, and somebody takes it, no one would argue that he could claim that the gloves and wallet were his property. And if the wallet is my property then all the contents of the wallet, including the money inside, is my property.
So it seems that the concept that money is property is well established in the understanding of property and possessions by the American people. But the real question is, is money “property” in the constitutional sense, and does it deserve Fifth Amendment protection?
If money is property, then the EPA cannot take money without due process. This would almost put the EPA out of business since many of their fines are outrageous. And if the EPA’s fines had to be approved by juries, very few juries composed of homeowners or farmers would allow Americans to suffer the EPA’s bureaucratic abuse.
Right now there is a long established and intimate connection between property and money. After all, County tax assessors use money as the measure of the value of real property. Nothing other than money is used as the basis of a valuation of property.
In fact, there are only two measures that define property: its physical location and money. Now the discussion starts to close in on an interesting distinction: the EPA cannot seize the physical location of the property without due process, yet it can seize the money of the owners and that does not always need due process.
If the location of a piece of real estate and its monetary value are so intimately connected then it would seem that money is property, and that fines cannot be levied by the EPA, IRS, or any other agency without a court hearing. Yet every day in every part of the U.S. local officials issue building code violation fines, etc. without court hearings. This is particularly true of Federal officials, who do not derive their authority locally but from a distant, national authority.
One may argue that fines are acceptable, since taxes, which are also money, are levied without due process. But taxation is a different administrative issue: taxes are applied equally to everyone. A fine is applied to only one specific person or corporation at a time.
And taxes cannot be written to target individual persons or individuals. They must be generally applied. A new hamburger franchise, for example, cannot be taxed differently than existing hamburger franchises. No unit of government can tax one person or entity uniquely.
If this entire discussion seems rather tedious, it is only because government, and in particular the federal government, has entangled its administrative power with Constitutional corruption to enable themselves to dominate America’s social and political fabric.
The tendency of governments to seize property without court hearings is one of the three abuses of individual rights that motivated the Fifth Amendment. As government grows and encroaches upon individual rights there is no doubt that while it may not yet be able to seize property without due process, every day more regulations are written by the Obama Administration that allow it to seize money without due process.
Legal foundations should take it upon themselves to challenge federal administrative guidelines and bring this issue to the Supreme Court. If the time ever comes when money is defined as property by the Supreme Court bureaucratic powers will be greatly weakened. The government’s ability to seize the wealth of Americans and transfer it to themselves will be severely curtailed.