The Ordinance That Turned Private Properties Into Cemeteries

The Rich Zeoli Show
June 27, 2019 - 10:14 am
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PHILADELPHIA (1210 WPHT)- Private property rights were in grave danger until the Pacific Legal Foundation fought a local ordinance that infringed on them.

"The Township of Scott passed a strange ordinance that gave government officials the authority to snoop around on people's property and, if they found anything that was evidence of a gravestone or grave site...they could declare that area a cemetery," explained Christina Martin, Senior Attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation.

In an interview with The Rich Zeoli Show, Martin revealed that the ordinance posed a fine up to $600 for each day the private land was not open to the public. 

"Another $600 per day if you don't maintain it as if it really were a cemetery," said Martin.

Martin explained why this infringement on private property rights was so difficult to fight.

"Because of the 1985 decision called Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v.s. Hamilton Bank...the U.S. supreme court said that you could only bring your claim that the government took your property without paying for it in federal court if it's against state or local government...after you tried in state court and lost.

"It turns out that once you lose in state court, you can't come to federal court," said Martin.

After a legal battle, the Pacific Legal Foundation has helped change the situation.

"What happened just this last week is that the U.S. Supreme Court reversed itself," said Martin. "As soon as the government takes your property without paying for it, even if it's the local township, you can go to federal court and enforce your federal property rights."

Listen to the full interview below.