Private Property Rights Protection Act protects you

Published 5:38 pm Monday, November 14, 2005

By By Jo Bonner
Last week the House passed the Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2005. This important legislation defends the vital private property rights of every American.
The legislation was passed in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's narrowly-decided Kelo vs. New London case, which ruled that a property's potential for economic improvement outweighs an individual's right to his property.
The 5th Amendment has long been determined to grant the government the right to take or force the sale of property for "public use," never before has the Court included "promotion of economic development" in its list of public uses.
As a member of Congress who pledged to support and defend the Constitution, I am troubled by the Kelo decision. This is not what our Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the 5th Amendment. The idea of eminent domain was designed to protect private ownership not outline the conditions for its destruction.
The House legislation enhances the penalty for states and localities that abuse their eminent domain power.
In response to the Kelo decision, Alabama was the first state to enact new protections against local-government seizure of property.
You may recall that Governor Bob Riley signed a bill passed unanimously by the Alabama legislature, which prohibits governments from using their eminent domain authority for economic development.
The Private Property Rights Protection Act further enhances protections passed by the states. We cannot allow for people's homes, farms, and other private property to be seized by the government for a shopping center, an office building, or other commercial development.
The 9th Circuit Court Strikes Again
I was outraged by the recent ruling of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stating that parents no longer have a say in what public schools teach their students.
You may have heard that the court held "that there is no free-standing fundamental right of parents to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance with their personal and religious values and beliefs."
The case involved parents who sued their local school district after their first, third, and fifth grade children were given a survey containing graphic questions about sex.
The survey asked questions such as whether the children ever thought about having sex or touching other people's "private parts" and whether they could "stop thinking about having sex." These were questions asked to first graders!
The court went on to say that "parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students."
The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit has a history of legislating from the bench. The most notable example is the 2002 decision that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional because it contains the phrase "under God." Thankfully, the decision was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 9th Circuit holds the distinction of being the largest and the most backlogged of the circuits. According to the Los Angeles Times, from July 1, 2004, to June 30, 2005, more than 15,600 cases were appealed to the 9th Circuit, triple the nationwide circuit court average of 4,783. Rulings from the 9th Circuit take an average of five months longer than rulings from other federal appeals courts.
The House is taking steps to split this overburdened court, thereby creating new vacancies for President Bush to fill. This plan would create a new 12th Circuit consisting of Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, leaving the 9th Circuit with California, Hawaii, Guam, and the Northern Marianas Islands.
I am hopeful that the president will fill the four longstanding vacancies currently open on the 9th Circuit, and I encourage him to continue appointing the strong, constitutionally-minded justices he has in the past.
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.

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