IMPORANT PRIVATE PROPERTY COALITION EMERGES. “Property Rights Are Civil Rights”
is Monday’s “John Fund on the Trial” column, at Opinion Journal
. Fund summarizes much of the valid criticisms leveled at the decision handed down by the 5-member majority of the U.S. Supreme Court that recently declared that mere economic development constitutes a public purpose that satisfies the 5th Amendment’s Takings Clause. He then discusses the interesting political dynamics of the opposition to the Kelo
decision. As Fund notes, the supporters of stronger private property protections transcend any racial boundaries.
In his strong dissent from the majority in Kelo
, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that it could hardly be denied that the majority’s ruling would hurt discrete and insular minorities—referring to the infamous footnote four in U.S. v. Carolene Products
(1938). (Simply google “footnote four” if you want to learn more the most famous footnote in constitutional jurisprudence.) Justice Thomas's view in this regard is supported by such wide-ranging groups as NAACP and Institute for Justice.
Says Fund, legislation has passed the House of Representatives to prevent the use of federal funds for the exercise of eminent domain power for mere economic development. There was a compainion resolution expressing profound disagreement with the majority ruling in Kelo
that passed by an even wider margin.
While my own cursory search of the Library of Congress site has not turned up a roll call vote on the former legislation, the roll call vote I've found for the latter resolution is interesting. Congressman Dave Reichert
is to be congratulated by his important vote IN FAVOR of the resolution and for greater protection private property rights. However, Congressmen Norm Dicks, Jim McDermott and Jay Inslee all voted AGAINST the resolution and for such protections for private property rights.
A new political coalition for greater private property protections is emerging. Congressman Reichert is on board. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris is on board. Their votes send an important message and their actions will help protect private property in this country. So where are Congressmen Dicks, McDermott and Inslee?
Also, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas introduced a bill titled the “Protection of Homes, Small Businesses, and Private Property Act of 2005."
The bill reaffirms that the power of eminent domain shall only be exercised pursuant to a “public use”—and that “public use” does NOT include mere “economic development.” The bill, if enacted, would apply to the Federal Government and to State and local governments when exercising eminent domain power through the use of Federal funding.
I strongly support such legislation, and applaud the members of Congress--including Congressman Reichert--who have stepped up to the plate in upholding the Constitution and protecting private property.(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)