Kentner vs. City of Sanibel

Date: November 13, 2014

Washington, DC (November 13, 2014) – The country’s leading small business advocate recently urged the United States Supreme Court to knock down a ruling that hasn’t received much attention but which could one radically alter the meaning of the Fourth Amendment and place property rights in jeopardy for all Americans.


“Despite that the plain language of the Constitution lists property as one of the essential basic rights the 11th Circuit Court ruling throws wide open the possibility that government can at will deprive Americans of the use or value of their private property,” said Karen Harned, Executive Director of the NFIB Legal Small Business Legal Center


The case, Kentner vs City of Sanibel, originates from Florida.  At issue is whether a city ordinance banning the construction of new docks violates the state and federal constitutions.  At first glance it looks like a run-of-the-mill zoning issue, but there’s much more at stake, NFIB contends.


“The Fourth Amendment forbids governments from exactly this sort of precipitous action, which deprives individuals of their property rights, without due process,” said Harned.  “In this case the city not only failed to guarantee due process but it offered no real evidence that new dock construction was an environmental hazard.


“The 11th Circuit nevertheless ruled that there is no due process protection for state-created property rights, which is so overly broad as to potentially put in jeopardy anyone’s property, anywhere for any reason deemed appropriate by government officials.”


The implications are especially large for local business owners, said Harned.


“Business owners are an easy target for regulators, bureaucrats, activists and politicians, and without due process they could face endless restrictions on the use of their property that could be devastating.”


It’s an issue that should resonate beyond the business community, however, because of its potential to alter a basic American freedom.


“The Fourth Amendment explicitly protects our right to Life, Liberty and Property,” said Harned.  “Private property ownership isn’t only essential to our freedom but it’s integral to the free market system from which our national prosperity derives.”


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