The U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court

A Pennsylvania woman fighting her local government’s decision to open her private property to the public is demanding to know where in the U.S. Constitution one can find “warrantless searches” and “unbridled trespassing.”

The case is being presented to the U.S. Supreme Court, since state courts have insisted precedent doesn’t allow them to rule, and federal courts say they won’t take action until the state courts do something.

The suit was filed by Rose Mary Knick, who lives alone on about 90 acres of Pennsylvania land that has been in her family for nearly half a century.

Officials in Scott Township abruptly decided to create a law taking away the private property rights of landowners if anyone even suspects there was an old gravesite on the land.

No proof was necessary for the law to then require that the landowner provide daily public access for anyone to trespass.

Knick is asking the high court to overturn the law as a violation of her constitutionally protected property rights.

“Scott Township’s graveyard law forces property owners to allow warrantless searches by government and unbridled trespassing by the public,” said Pacific Legal Foundation Senior Attorney J. David Breemer. “The Supreme Court should take Ms. Knick’s case to make sure the township does not get away with its flagrant abridgement of constitutionally protected rights.”

“Police State USA: How Orwell’s Nightmare Is Becoming Our Reality” chronicles how America has arrived at the point of being a de facto police state, and what led to an out-of-control government that increasingly ignores the Constitution. Order today!

Her land is used for grazing for cattle, horses and other animals. It’s bounded by fences, stone walls and “No Trespassing” signs.

“There is no cemetery mentioned in the chain of title going back hundreds of years,” said Pacific Legal Foundation, which has won numerous property rights cases at the Supreme Court.

“Nevertheless, in 2013, a town enforcement officer entered the property searching for graveyards. Soon after, Ms. Knick was issued a notice of violation claiming her property contained an old burial ground that had not been kept open to the public. She later received a second notice of violation.”

Knick said: “It was unbelievable that the town would trample all over my rights this way, making it open season for trespassing on my land. I am very hopeful that the Supreme Court will take a stand for the Constitution, and for everybody’s property rights, by striking down this outrageous law.”

Isolated grave sites are not uncommon in parts of the country where there is no ban on burials on private ground. And, indeed, sometimes burials date back to before rules and regulations were in place. So the plains of Pennsylvania contain small burial plots for families.

However, the records don’t show any such location on Knick’s land, PLF said.

The township simply adopted procedures for its “code enforcement” agents to search her land without permission, and while trespassing, they claimed to have found stone evidence of burial plots.

The lower courts then decided the township had created a “right of way” for the public.

The township issued her citations, but when the arguments began in state court, suddenly withdrew them. The state court then said it couldn’t make a decision until an enforcement action was pending.

When Knick then went to federal court, the judge there claimed an adjudication in state court was required first.

“What a mess,” the petition to the high court said. “The Constitution requires a ‘reasonable, certain and adequate provision for obtaining compensation.’ But this is exactly what [precedent] prevents. It creates a chaotic and unworkable system for adjudicating federal takings claims.”

PLF President Steven D. Anderson said his group “fights for individual liberty, a core component of which is protection from unconstitutional government intrusion on one’s property and privacy.”

“Defending property rights also means insisting that landowners who have suffered constitutional wrongs have direct access to federal court for redress. Securing these protections requires determination and vigilance, and we look forward to vindicating these vital principles,” he said.

The demand for access to Knick’s land came after an anonymous “citizen inquiry” claimed there was a burial ground there.

“Police State USA: How Orwell’s Nightmare Is Becoming Our Reality” chronicles how America has arrived at the point of being a de facto police state, and what led to an out-of-control government that increasingly ignores the Constitution. Order today!

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