P.O. Box 718
Lake Dallas, TX 75065
February 21, 2019
ACLU of Texas
State Headquarters
P.O. Box 8306
Houston, TX 77288-8306
RE: Civil Rights Complaint, 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Violation of U.S. Constitution, 14th Amendment
Due Process Clause; Equal Protection Clause
Violation of U.S. Constitution, 8th Amendment
Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause
I respectfully submit that the property tax system in Texas as well as that in other
states violates the above noted laws. There are ongoing and currently increasing
instances of the State confiscating property of a certain and distinct class of people for
failure to pay their property tax. This certain and distinct class of people are those living
on welfare, minimum wage, or minimum Social Security who either own their home or
can barely pay the mortgage, e.g. referred to collectively as The Poor.
The process is often due to gentrification whereby developers push the price up on
nearby land and subsequently the appraised value of their homes and, in turn, their
property tax. There are, of course, other means to increase the appraised value such as
new highways through the area, construction of city buildings nearby, etc. Nonetheless,
The Poor are victimized and sometimes forced to move to another state where property
tax is not so vicious. This forced removal to another state could also be viewed as a
violation of the Intrastate Commerce Clause.
There are sub classes of The Poor, namely women and certain ethnic groups. I
would hope that the ACLU has data to emphasize the preponderance of these groups that
reinforce a Civil Rights violation.
14th Amendment, Due Process Clause
Substantive Due Process, Meyer v. Nebraska (1923): The Court ruled:
[w]ithout doubt...denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint but also the right of
the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire
useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God
according to the dictates of his own conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges
long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free
Conflict of Interest, Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. (2009)
By nature of this ruling, shouldn’t every judge that is involved in foreclosure for property
tax claims recuse himself? The judge, who can very well afford to pay his property tax
either by owning his home directly or indirectly by renting, has a conflict of interest.
Equal Protection Clause
… nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process
of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the
The inference of violation is obvious.
8th Amendment, Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause.
Cruel and Unusual Punishment, Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972)
“The "essential predicate" is "that a punishment must not by its severity be degrading to
human dignity,”
Certainly nothing is less dignifying or humiliating as having your home stolen, your
belongings stacked by the curb, and kicked out to live on the streets.
Excessive Fines
Property Tax Foreclosures result in a public auction for the taxes owed plus legal fees,
interest, etc. Speculators and developers prevail at a price far below the value of the
property; the difference to pay the taxes goes to the ex-homeowner, just enough to buy a
tent for shelter down by the river. Excessive!
I humbly beg the ACLU to instigate a test case through the State of Texas courts and
subsequently, as anticipated, appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court for relief.
John T. Thorngren
e-mail: TEXANDcorp@Charter.net