Takings clarified

  -If I tell my daughter that she cannot play with her ball in the house, she has lost something of value - the right to play with the ball in the house. I have regulated what she can do with the ball, but I haven't "taken" it. She is still free to play with it outside. I only "take" her ball when I physically seize it. Only a child immersed in the literature of the property rights movement would argue otherwise."

* William Michael Treanor,

in "The Original Understanding of

the Takings Clause'

Behind the contentious debate over the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment lies simple and clear language, writes Treanor, an associate professor of law at Fordham University. But this language - -nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation' - has been distorted by the property rights movement, which seeks to force the federal government to reimburse property owners when the value of land is diminished by environmental controls. Treanor writes that the government does have the responsibility to reimburse property owners when land is taken - such as for a fort - and that's it. His 18-page booklet costs $1.50 from the Environmental Policy Project, Georgetown University Law Center, 600 New Jersey Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20001 (202/662-9850), [email protected]

* Dustin Solberg

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