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A reminder from Judge Napolitano and William Pitt

In America, Andrew P. Napolitano is a fast-talking, former New Jersey judge who has become a radio and television personality. Conservatives call him the “ACLU attorney” on Fox News, which is to say, a liberal. He calls himself a libertarian. I have agreed and disagreed with his judicial opinions, which he always delivers with supreme self-confidence.

Recently, Judge Napolitano or “the Judge” as he is referred to on Fox, spoke about an individual’s property rights, which were affirmed in Magna Carta, defined in British common law, and reaffirmed in the U.S. Constitution. The Judge understands that the right to property is essential to a person's freedom and prosperity, and he is concerned at any sign they may be jeopardised in America.

Those concerns apply to Britain as well, where the European Union’s relentless regulation of property and how it may be used is an attack on the property rights of every citizen, on our freedom, and, ultimately, on us.

The Judge noted that our property rights include: Our right to use property; our right to transfer or sell it; and our right to exclude people from it – to be free from search or attack in our own homes. There are exceptions to these rights – In using my property I can’t negatively impact yours, for instance, but these exceptions are limited, and defined by law.

To make his case about our right to be free in our homes from search or attack, particularly attack by the government, the Judge quotes one of Thomas Jefferson's favourite speeches from William the Pitt the Elder, Prime Minister of Britain in the 18th century:

The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake, the wind may blow through it, the storm may enter, the rain may enter, but the King of England cannot enter. All of his forces dare not cross the threshold of the ruined cottage.

Thanks to Judge Napolitano and William Pitt for the reminder. Pitt, I recently learned, had so much respect for the public's property that he refused to profit from his job as paymaster by taking a percentage of subsidies in addition to his salary, though that was more or less standard practice. As a result, public confidence in him was tremendous.