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
“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
“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.”
For more information about NFIB, please visit www.nfib.com.