1993 Scorecard Vote
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution provides that private property shall not be taken for ""public"" use without just compensation to the property owner. Two types of ""takings"" are recognized by the courts: the physical acquisition of property for public use and the ""regulatory taking"" of property when government regulation significantly reduces its value.
The question of what constitutes a ""regulatory taking"" remains a legal gray area. A polluter required to obey the Clean Air Act might claim its regulations reduce the profits of his factory and thus the property's value. Yet cleaner air would improve the health and economy of the entire community, boosting overall property values in the long run.
During the Reagan administration, radical interpretations of the Fifth Amendment were proposed that gave power to polluters and large property owners at the expense of the public's rights. In 1987, President Reagan issued an executive order that required redundant, time-consuming, and costly ""takings"" reviews by the U.S. attorney general of all regulations promulgated.
The Private Property Rights Act (H.R. 561), introduced by Rep. Gary Condit (D-CA), would write into law the Reagan executive order and give the attorney general authority to veto any regulations declared to result in a ""taking."" It could weaken or abolish regulations safeguarding public health and safety by characterizing them as ""takings"" of property rights, and has the potential to create a massive bureaucracy to carry out the government reviews required. The so-called ""property rights"" campaign, known in the West as the ""wise-use movement,"" has been attacked for, in effect, advocating the waste and abuse of our natural resources.
The League considers cosponsorship of H.R. 561 to be an anti-environmental action. Currently there are 106 cosponsors.