October 30, 2019
By Timothy Sandefur
Private property was understood for centuries as referring to one’s right to decide what to do with one’s land—in other words, the right to use that land as one chooses. Ownership without the right to use isn’t a benefit at all, but a burden. Yet in recent decades, the right to private property has been increasingly transformed into a permission—a privilege that one must ask the government for, instead of a right that one can exercise freely. That’s a problem because when bureaucrats are in the position of deciding whether or not you can use your property, they also have the ability to impose demands on you—and to force you to comply with their views about what they want, rather than facilitating your right to decide for yourself.
That was the focus of a panel at Pepperdine University’s recent conference “Give Me Liberty—Or Give Me Permission,” on which Goldwater Institute Executive Vice President Christina Sandefur spoke. She joined California Assemblyman Chris Norby and Johnny Sanphillippo of the online journal Strong Towns to talk about some of the ways government takes away private property rights—and refuses to give owners the just compensation to which they’re constitutionally entitled.
You can watch the discussion above.
Timothy Sandefur is the Vice President for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute.