I’m back after an awesome Easter weekend. My wife and I spent time at our property, worked a little and relaxed a lot.
To follow this series from the beginning Part 1 -3 is linked for your convenience.
This is the week we talk about everyone’s favorite subject, eminent domain law.
What is this great law and how do you get some?
There are ways but I will save most of that for another day.
In the meantime, we need to discuss all those businesses that Greg Abbott, without a vote, decided to call non-essential and then closed.
If I decide to move into your house while you are away have I “seized” your house?
What if I promise to give it back in a couple of weeks?
For me, to legally use another person’s house I have to ask the owner, right?
When Greg Abbott decided to close businesses that didn’t belong to him, he, in effect, seized property.
Many claim the closures were “voluntary” and I would agree some were but nobody goes to jail or gets fined for not doing things that are “voluntary.”
Cities do not turn off your power and water or send law enforcement over a failure to voluntarily do something.
The government does not show up with guns and take your property if you do not volunteer.
We are civilians here; it holds an entirely different definition in the military when you are being “voluntold.”
This is what the Texas Constitution says about seizing something that belongs to a citizen.
Sec. 17. TAKING PROPERTY FOR PUBLIC USE; SPECIAL PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES; CONTROL OF PRIVILEGES AND FRANCHISES. (a) No person's property shall be taken, damaged, or destroyed for or applied to public use without adequate compensation being made, unless by the consent of such person, and only if the taking, damage, or destruction is for:
(1) the ownership, use, and enjoyment of the property, notwithstanding an incidental use, by:
(A) the State, a political subdivision of the State, or the public at large; or
(B) an entity granted the power of eminent domain under law; or
(2) the elimination of urban blight on a particular parcel of property.
(b) In this section, "public use" does not include the taking of property under Subsection (a) of this section for transfer to a private entity for the primary purpose of economic development or enhancement of tax revenues.
(c) On or after January 1, 2010, the legislature may enact a general, local, or special law granting the power of eminent domain to an entity only on a two-thirds vote of all the members elected to each house.
(d) When a person's property is taken under Subsection (a) of this section, except for the use of the State, compensation as described by Subsection (a) shall be first made, or secured by a deposit of money; and no irrevocable or uncontrollable grant of special privileges or immunities shall be made; but all privileges and franchises granted by the Legislature, or created under its authority, shall be subject to the control thereof.
Notice there are only 3 reasons listed for taking control of someone’s property, Subsection 1, A, B and Subsection 2.
Notice, pandemic is not one of those reasons.
Did Abbott order private businesses to close?
Not only was this a taking as we have said but under this law there is no authority in the state constitution to allow it.
Even if there were such an authority, the very FIRST thing that would have to be done would be to pay the people affected in advance, subsection 2, D, was this done?
So not only did Abbott’s mandate violate section 17, it did so in two different ways.
It is kind of like France losing WWII, twice. Nobody knew it was possible until they did it.
Join us again next time as we cover why being placed under house arrest without a trail, charge or even a crime is a bad thing.
We’ll unfold how the governor of Texas was told not to do it, but did it anyways.
Robert West, The Five Star Plan