Originally Posted by Tex Gal
Well said, in summary, Amanda. I'm not sure about the correctness of your legal arguments. I think it displays a youthful, refreshing ignorance about how powerful our government is, and what it can, and cannot do, as governed by the constitution. Consider the case, a few years, ago where the government took away a private citizen's land, and gave it to another "private" entity, claiming it would benefit the community. That went to the supreme court and the land was seized. Turns out, due to the economic slow down, that private corporation never did use the land- but the previous owner lost it just the same.
We think logically, bureaucrats, many times, just throw legislation at things, without thinking it to it's logical end.
Very true - I could point to the new health care bill as another excellent example of things they don't really have jurisdiction over but pass laws on anyway (nowhere in the Constitution does it say anything about Congress having a say in health care, but it does
say that the legislative subjects not given specifically to Congress or denied to the states is, in fact, under the jurisdiction of the states). Also, a few towns over from here and a few years back I recall an imminent domain case where they wanted to give residential land to a private company that wanted to build a mall, claiming that the jobs created and overall economic boost it would bring was a valid public interest. I believe that, too, went to SCOTUS and was upheld (come to think of it, we might very well be referencing the same case...). That said, I'm pretty sure the former owners of the property still
received monetary compensation for the property.
Which, ultimately, was my point - not that the government can't take your stuff away, but that they theoretically
have to give you something in return if they do. Extra emphasis on the theoretically bit. I was sort of just theorizing in general about what, according to the fancy historical documents, should
be - not what necessarily is. Believe me, I've seen enough of government agencies doing whatever they darn well please in violation of the laws to last me a lifetime. And, I probably have enough lifetime left that I'll see more (unfortunately).
I do, however, stand by the ex post facto thing. They really can't fine you or punish you for the possession of a plant that was obtained legally, because no crime was committed - until and unless they pass a law that specifically prohibits continued possession in and of itself, i.e. the aforementioned narcotics laws, or Cuban cigars (as a result of trade embargoes). I'm not sure whether such laws have yet been applied to invasive/noxious plants, but seeing as no one's out there finish people for all the invasive burning bushes you see in our local landscapes, I'm guessing there's no law against having the plant after the fact.
It would be interesting to see if there's any legal precedent with regard to aquarium plants, but the industry is so closed and the public at large so ambivalent toward it that I doubt there's many cases of such. I suppose if they ever do take action, though, all us hobbyists could get together and start a class-action suit, if only for the sake of seeing what happens. ^.^'
Ultimately, though, what it likely comes down to is the fact that the USDA isn't searching through every box of plants we mail around, and probably doesn't even really care
what's in them - I think they're more worried about large-scale, commercial distribution than hobbyists trading their extra stems, lol.