Column: Right to private property well-established principle

The original verbiage in the Declaration of Independence was life, liberty and property. That is unsurprising since our original European settlers came from countries where the land was owned by the realm — that is, owned by the king and a select few of the wealthy nobility.

What is surprising is that this hard-won liberty has eroded to a point where a bureaucrat can usurp ownership of your front yard for a recreational path.

Before getting to that, we need historical reference. The kings of England after the Norman conquest could at any moment evict their subjects, then take their cattle, their crops and all of their possessions. That law of the realm came to be known as eminent domain or “the despotic power” (realm can be traced in the Old French to mean government).

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