Founders Ranch In Jeopardy

by Colonel Dan


The Cowboy Chronicle

September 2005


“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence."  ~ John Adams ~


The Wild Bunch had better be watching over their collective shoulders—Founder’s Ranch could very well be taken away from SASS and given to a commercial developer in the near future!  Under the new interpretation of eminent domain, all it takes is the local or state government to seize the property and hand it over to private developers whose projects will enhance tax revenue and Founder’s Ranch is history!

The United States Supreme Court has opened the door to allow just such action with their recent Kelo vs. New London ruling where in a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court stretched the “Takings” clause of the 5th Amendment beyond unimaginable limits.  They have crossed a very dangerous threshold that puts not only Founder’s Ranch at risk but ALL private property—including your local range and your own home! 

Amendment V “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

That “Takings Clause” of this amendment specifically states “public use” i.e. roads, bridges, schools, and other like public facilities—certainly not for the purpose of giving it over to another private citizen for their use solely to increase local government’s tax revenue.  The Supreme Court Justices know that or they would have flunked Constitution 101 no matter what law school they attended.  When John Adams signed the Constitution, he reaffirmed “property must be secured or liberty cannot exist.”   Please tell that to the Supreme Court Mr. Adams!

How does all this place Founder’s Ranch in jeopardy?  Let’s say Developer Dave Inc. wants to build a new community of upscale homes, shopping malls and golf course.  Old Dave likes the lay of the land he saw while visiting EoT and approaches The Wild Bunch with an offer for the 408 acres.  The Wild Bunch turns it down—they want to keep their property.  Not being one to give up after the first failed shot, Dave knows under this new interpretation of the “takings clause” he can approach local government officials with a separate proposal. 

Developer Dave does a little independent research and discovers that Founder’s Ranch pays the county $10,000 per year in taxes because that area is currently zoned rural.  Clever Dave takes that information, does a little calculation on his own and tells the county that if he had that property, he could develop it as planned and that same 408 acres would generate $500,000 per year in taxes.  This perks the ears and lights up the eyes of local officials who all vote a resounding ‘yea’ and the eminent domain action is underway. 

The Wild Bunch is then offered “just compensation” as determined not by the free market but by government officials.  If SASS does not accept the offer they will be subjected to a lengthy court proceeding to determine not if they must sell or not but to set the level of “just compensation.”   In the end, the government gets title of the entire 408 acres and the Wild Bunch is ordered to vacate the land.  SASS is involuntarily forced to fork over the ranch even though they never had any intention of selling just so the local government can increase their tax revenue—and there’s nothing anyone can do unless of course the state itself decides not to exercise this new found confiscatory power. SASS is basically screwed and Founder’s Ranch is totally tattooed.

Think it can’t happen?  It already has in many cases.  Not even a day after the Supreme Court ruling was announced numerous eminent domain actions were filed by local governments.  According to WND reports, officials in Freeport, Texas for example initiated action to seize two family owned seafood companies paving the way for construction of an $8 million dollar marina!

There are a few things that always separated our free republic from communism—private property being one of those critically important linchpins of distinction.  If this ruling stands, that distinction will have been severely eroded.  This is as dangerous a ruling as I have ever seen in my lifetime. 

To quote James Madison, “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort. ...That alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own." 

But what happens when it’s government that’s doing the taking with a focus on nothing more than increasing tax revenue rather than protecting a citizen’s constitutional rights?  And wouldn’t this be a grand new way to confiscate local gun ranges which have come under such heavy attack in recent years?  So what happened to that “just government” Madison spoke of?”

What troubles me just as much as the Court’s arrogant disregard for this most basic Constitutional premise is how astoundingly deafening has been the relative silence from the legislative and executive branches on such a travesty!  Although a few in Congress have shown some “made for TV” bluster in the form of token statements, the executive branch has gone out of its way to avoid taking a stand. 

The lack of authentic outrage coupled with their ‘fate accompli’ acceptance of this attack on a fundamental freedom again reveals how little respect those currently holding elected and appointed office have for the sanctity of our Constitution.  It also shows beyond any doubt how arrogantly cavalier they are about their sacred oath to preserve, protect and defend—as if anyone needed yet another example of that!

Just the view from my saddle…

Note:  An appreciative salute goes out to Johnny the Kid and Cubby Bear for their legal review of this article prior to publication.

Contact Colonel Dan:       






Dark Canyon Home Page