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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Monday, May 22, 2023

Government Will Act in Its Own Selfish Interests.

By Rich Kozlovich

Every other week I receive a free newsletter from John Droz Jr.  In this latest edition he linked this April 26th article by Robert Stilson entitled, The Usual Suspects in Tyler v. Hennepin County highlighting what are in my opinion is blatant theft of America's citizens by government.  This is something I've followed for years, and I'm truly glad to see this is finally going to be addressed by SCOTUS.  However, based on the cat fight between Kagan and Sotomayor over a petty case involving a copyright case, I just hope they have the brain power and emotional stability to handle this.  

This week, the Supreme Court is hearing oral argument in Tyler v. Hennepin County, a case that arose from a highly controversial practice known to its critics as “home equity theft.” Numerous amici have filed in support of both sides of that case, and their briefs illustrate two themes that are also evident in the similarly controversial practice of civil asset forfeiture. First, government can and does function as its own special interest. Second, in doing so it can galvanize other interests into unlikely alliances that transcend what are sometimes stark ideological divides.

There are issues at stake here that any reasonable and sensible person should be able to see this is wrong, and here's the story. 

First, this 94 year old woman failed to pay her property taxes, and with "interest penalties and other costs",  amounted to $15,000.  When the condo was sold for taxes it sold for $40,000, and the county kept every penny of that.  Why didn't she get the $25,000 equity that was over and above what she owed?  And what exactly were these "other costs", and how much was the interest and penalties?  There are two Constitutional issues here.  The Fifth Amendment against taking property without just compensation ....remember.... "just" compensation,  and the Eighth Amendment against excessive fines.  And I'm betting both are being violated all over the nation, and as the author shows, that's exactly what's happening as he says: 

A notable brief supporting Hennepin County was filed by Oakland County, Michigan, which was itself the defendant in the 2020 Michigan Supreme Court case of Rafaeli, LLC v. Oakland County. In that case, Uri Rafaeli had purchased a property for $60,000 through his business, but accidentally underpaid his property taxes by $8.41 one year. Oakland County eventually foreclosed on his property over what had become a $285.81 debt, sold it for $24,500, and kept all the proceeds. The Michigan Association of Counties filed an amicus brief in that case too, writing that Rafaeli should not be “entitled to a red cent of the proceeds.” The Michigan Supreme Court saw otherwise, unanimously ruling that home equity theft violated the state’s constitution.

As a proud Ohioan I'm happy to report our own Buckeye Institute supports the rights of home owners in these cases. 

Minnesota County Robs Widow of $25,000 in Home Equity Buckeye Institute Argues in Brief to U.S. Supreme Court Sep 23, 2022 - On Thursday, The Buckeye Institute filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Tyler v. Hennepin County, asking the court to hear the case and protect the rights of people who have their property seized by the government from home equity theft. Buckeye was joined on the brief by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “The idea that the government can take property only when it provides ‘just compensation’ to the owner is a principle that goes back more than 800 years to Magna Carta and one which our Founding Fathers embraced,” said Jay R. Carson, senior litigator with The Buckeye Institute’s Legal Center. “By pocketing $25,000 in profits from the sale of Ms. Tyler’s home, Hennepin County has robbed Ms. Tyler of her home’s equity, plain and simple.”

Let's get this right, government is a "special interest",  and an unendingly hungry special interest.  Government will act in direct violation of the very foundation principles that found this nation in that government works for the people, not the reverse.  However, what we find over and over again is that in its own self interests, even if it means stealing what rightfully belongs to others, they will act in direct violation of that principle.   

Are there private special interests involved with government decision making?  Yes, but there's a difference, their interests can be ignored with impunity.   And that's the big difference between private special interests and government special interests. Government can't be ignored, because they can, and will, enforce their interests with force, even in violation of the rules of law. 

I hope SCOTUS has the mental capacity and emotional stability to understand that.

Update:  5/25/2023 - by Scott Johnson - Geraldine Tyler’s (good) day in court  - Ms. Tyler has prevailed 9-0. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion for the Court. Justice Gorsuch filed a concurring opinion in which Justice Jackson joined. The Court’s decision is posted here.

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