Property Rights, Contracts and Law – American Citizen Arrested for Trespassing on His Land


Duluth News Tribune posted an article that attributes to the fact that Americans have lost their private property rights, where Jeremy Engelking is arrested for trespassing on his own property by the local country sheriff.
Eminent Domain

Eminent domain refers to the power possessed by the state over all property within the state, specifically its power to appropriate property for a public use. In some jurisdictions, the state delegates eminent domain power to certain public and private companies, typically utilities, such that they can bring eminent domain actions to run telephone, power, water, or gas lines.

In this case, a company [Enbridge Energy Partners L.P.] had a contract since 1949, but when the company wanted to expand their operations on Mr. Engelking’s 200 acres because the contract required too many restrictions concerning use of his own property, the private company continued its expansion operation despite protest from owner. The company offered a check to Mr. Engelking, hand delivered, in the amount of $15,000 in payment for any pipe laying operations beyond the 1949 agreement, but Mr. Engelking refused to accept it.
A judge in a previous issue to request a restraining order by the Engelking family was lifted and the judge ruled that the new pipeline expansion was appropriate and efforts had been made to pay the Engelking family. However, Mr. Engelking refused to accept the check because it would constitute an act of agreement.
Jerry Engelking seeks to continue this legal battle.
Property Rights Prescribed by Law
The United States Constitution covers this issue, but briefly in the Fifth Amendment:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.[1] [Wikipedia]

Eminent domain was not recognized in the Supreme Court until 1876 in the Kohl v. United States case.
In the Engelking case, it is a dispute involving a contract, and a judge declared that the actions of the company were in agreement with the original and the company provided compensation. This case is not in violation of the Fifth Amendment because it is dealing with a contract between a business entity and private land owner. The only grievance would be the sheriff’s action of arresting him under the charges of trespassing on his own property during an attempt to ask the workers not to continue their operation until the disagreement was settled.
The eminent domain part of the Fifth Amendment must be complied with, as the Second Amendment and other parts of the Bill of Rights by all fifty states, as long as they remain a state within the union of the United States. Too often states and county governments have violated property rights and thus this issue is sensitive to freedom-loving Americans.
It is time for the Supreme Court to start performing in a manner of which it was designed – to ensure that states adhere to the Constitution of the United States and its amendments and that the federal government also recognizes the Fourth and Tenth Amendment concerning state rights. Too often the eminent domain is used for a private enterprise’s gain and not for public use like telephone lines, railroad right-of-way, and so on. It is good that the person is provided with compensation; however, if the citizen does not want to sell or provide a specific access to their private property – that should be their right as well. In past transactions of this nature, the local or state government would find means to condemn the property and thus seize it in a legal manner against the will of the owner.
For too long, the American people and those they elect have ignored the principles of constitutional law, bypassing and abusing it. If there is going to be a reformation, a true change, than this is the foundation of that reformation movement. Our nation must return to be the republic for which it was founded and a government For the People and By the People under the foundation of constitutional law.
Related Links:
Castle Coalition: Citizens Fighting Eminent Domain Abuse
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