Originally created 11/18/96

Property rights periled



Most people are aware the labor bosses lost big-time when they failed to turn the GOP Congress out of office on Nov. 5. Less well known is that the so-called environmental lobby also took a beating.

Two of the largest environmental PACs - the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters - spent $9 million to persuade Americans that the "Dole-Gingrich gang" wanted nothing less than to poison the nation's air and water and to kill off every endangered species.

That's not as much as Big Labor spent, but it was still millions more than endangered property owners could spend to defend their rights. Yet they should count themselves lucky they fought the zealots to a standoff.

Still, a standoff equates to no change, and the status quo is rigged in favor of the zealots' agenda: expanding Big Government's regulatory control of private property under the guise of preserving the environment.

Just how stacked the system is was demonstrated in an astounding ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, holding that environmentalists and others may sue to take control of private property to protect wildlife, but property-owners may not sue to reduce control, even when it's clearly excessive.

The case grew out of a challenge to the Endangered Species Act when scores of Oregon ranchers and farmers went belly up after the government, to preserve the sucker fish, arbitrarily cut off irrigation water the farmers and ranchers depended on to work their land.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard the appeal last Wednesday, and if there is any justice it will strike down the lower court's ruling. What could be more unconstitutional - or anti-American - than to hold that environmentalists may go to court to enforce their edicts, and property-owners have no right to fight back?