The assault on private property rights

Private property ownership is a fundamental American that is protected by the Constitution. According to the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment, “…nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”

This Constitutional right is now under threat. Some politicians have been working with special interests to weaken this cornerstone of American life. I learned about this the hard way, when I was confronted by an armed trespasser riding an ATV on my family’s mountain tree farm in the 1990s. I subsequently caught another gunman using our land as a shooting range.

I responded by posting signs to prohibit guns and ATVs (in addition to the existing “private property” signs. The trespassers destroyed my signs. I upped the ante by physically blocking motorized access to my family’s property with a boulder. The trespassers formed a “shovel brigade” and removed the barrier. I replaced it with a dozen more. I was promptly sued by a local miner who wanted to use my property for access to a mine that he claimed he owned (it turns out that he didn’t). His lawsuit was funded by a local off-road recreation club.

I was forced to spend the next six years and most of my nest egg defending my Constitutional rights. Needless to say, I won. But it taught me that private property rights are not automatic. They must be actively defended.

Paid for by Mark Boslough for New Mexico, Mark Fraser Treasurer