American Property Rights

The government has an "Implied License" to come on your land anytime they feel like it. You can REVOKE that "Implied License" with our "Revocation" No Trespass Sign

A sign that is on the side of a building.

"This term, in its particular application, means "that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual." In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces everything to which a man may attach a value and have a right, and which leaves everyone else the like advantage. In the former sense, a man's land, or merchandise, or money is called his property. In the latter sense, a man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them. He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions and in the profession and practice dictated by them. He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person.

He has an equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them. In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have property in his rights. Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions. Where there is an excess of liberty, the effect is the same, though from an opposite cause. Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term." From an article describing property rights by James Madison, March 29, 1792.

Before venturing further on this page, we strongly recommend that you read a well-written treatise on property rights and the right of eminent domain prepared by Bob Benze, a member of the Kitsap Alliance Board of Directors and a member of the Puget Sound Regional Council Growth Management Policy Board. (Washington State) You will find the treatise at:

And here is something else you should read by an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation regarding the Precautionary Principle that is now the driving force behind much of environmental regulation today. Although couched in legal language, it is, nevertheless, very important in describing the arbitrary and misapplication of government's police powers.

"Regulation Cannot Be Based On The Precautionary Principle"

While it is often politically expedient to adopt overly precautionary measures, the precautionary principle is not science and cannot satisfy the scientific requirements of Washington State's Growth Management Act or Shorelines Management Act. Expressed in its most basic form, the precautionary principle reflects the age-old adage: better safe than sorry. See Frank B. Cross, Paradoxical Perils of the Precautionary Principle, 53 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 851, 851 (1996). As a legal principle, the precautionary principle insists that the lack of full scientific certainty should not stand in the way of regulatory action. Cross, 53 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. at 851. The precautionary principle (as expressed in the Brennan and Culverwell study) suggests that government should act to protect the environment, even in the absence of clear evidence of harm and notwithstanding the costs of such actions. Cross, 53 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. at 851; see also AR V8, Tab 72, Index 776 at 20.

Proponents and critics of the precautionary principle agree that, when used as a decision-making tool, the principle is properly considered as a matter of policy, not science. See Holly Doremus, Precaution, Science, and Learning While Doing in Natural Resource Management, 82 Wash. L. Rev. 547, 558-60 (2007) (resort to the precautionary principle is a moral argument that makes no pretense of value neutrality); id. at 560 (citing Gail Charnley & E. Donald Elliott, Risk Versus Precaution: Environmental Law and Public Health Protection, 31 Envtl. L. Rep. 10,363, 10,365 (2002) (arguing that regulatory decisions adopted under the precautionary principle should disclose that policy, not science, underlies those standards.). A decision to adopt the policy-based precautionary solution will constitute an unjustified departure from "Best Available Science" (BAS) and will be invalid. Swinomish, 161 Wn.2d at 430-31; Ferry County, 155 Wn.2d at 835.

Brian T. Hodges
Managing Attorney
Pacific Legal Foundation


By Narciso Rosario
Copyright 2020, All Rights Reserved


In a "Fifth Amendment" treatise by State Supreme Court Justice Richard B. Sanders (12/10/97), he writes:

"Property "is defined by (Washington) state law. Board of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 92 S. Ct. 2701, 2709, 33 L. Ed. 2d 548 (1972). Our state, and most other states, define property in an extremely broad sense."

"Property in a thing consists not merely in its ownership and possession, but in the unrestricted right of use, enjoyment, and disposal. Anything which destroys any of the elements of property, to that extent, destroys the property itself. The substantial value of property lies in its use. If the right of use be denied, the value of the property is annihilated, and ownership is rendered a barren right."

Ackerman v. Port of Seattle, 55 Wn.2d 400, 409, 348 P.2d 664 (1960) (quoting from Spann v. City of Dallas, 111 Tex. 350, 355, 235 S.W. 513, 19 A.L.R. 1387 (1921)).

And further, Justice Sanders states:

"While it is up to each state to define property for itself, the right to use one's property has been universally understood to be a fundamental attribute of real property ownership. Compare Eaton v. Boston, C. and M.R.R., 51 N.H. 504, 511-512 (1872) ("the framers of the Constitution intended to protect property rights which are worth protecting; not mere empty titles. . . among those elements is, fundamentally, the right of use. . . ") and Lord Coke: "to deprive one of the use of his land is depriving him of his land. What is the land but the profits thereof?" See also John M. Groen and Richard M. Stephens, Takings Law, Lucas, and the Growth Management Act, 16 U. Puget Sound L. Rev. 1259, at 1266, 1295 (Spring 1993)."

Even a layman can understand that when "use" is severely restricted or taken, ownership becomes a barren right. If property ownership is a "barren" right, then private citizens have no right to own property. If the private citizen has no right to own property, then it follows that the Government "owns" all property. Many in government and the environmental movement actually believe this and would like to see this to be the final outcome of private property in America today; the Constitution be damned.

The above definition of Property Rights was written by Ron Ewart, President of the National Association of Rural Landowners, and delivered as part of his testimony to the King County Council of Washington State in rebuttal to a proposed draconian environmental ordinance called the Critical Areas Ordinance. In spite of voluminous negative testimony by hundreds of local rural owners and vociferous opposition from the Republicans on the County Council, the Democrats, in the majority on the council, passed the ordinance anyway. All of these environmental ordinances that are being passed throughout America, in compliance with the policies of UN's Agenda 21, fall disproportionately on the American rural landowner. The rural landowner is being asked to bear almost the entire burden of environmental protection, while their city brethren get off virtually scot-free. But then that is where most of the radical environmentalists live, and they are the ones who elect our representatives that pass the laws on top of the rural landowner. Hardly equal treatment under the law.