Civil Rights

Property Rights are Civil Rights


reason contributors David Beito and Ilya Somin had a great op-ed in last Sunday's Kansas City Star explaining why eminent domain abuse should matter to civil rights activists:

Few policies have done more to destroy community and opportunity for minorities than eminent domain. Some 3 to 4 million Americans, most of them ethnic minorities, have been forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of urban renewal takings since World War II.

The fact is that eminent-domain abuse is a crucial constitutional rights issue.

Whole thing here.

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  1. Charlottesville, VA, where I used to live, has a wonderful history of deciding a project needs to get built and then picking out a black neighborhood to bulldoze. I’m sure this has happened all over the place.

    Also, check out the legacy of Robert Moses in the Bronx, where the Cross Bronx Expressway cut a never-repaired gash through a formerly vibrant neighborhood. He wanted to do the same thing in Greenwich Village, but it is (was?) harder to accomplish the razing of white(r) neighborhoods.

  2. Few policies have done more to destroy community and opportunity for minorities than eminent domain.

    The WOD would be one of those few. And by at least an order of magnitude. Yet for the most part Civil Rights activists don’t even pay lip service to ending prohibition.


  3. On June 3, 2008 California voters will have a chance to limit Eminent Domain. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has qualified Proposition 98 to prohibit the use of eminent domain for the benefit of private developers and redevelopment programs.

    More info @

    This will a primary election for Congress and state legislature, and Proposition 98 will be one of only two statewide questions. Prop. 99 is a decoy put up by the League of Cities, and provides minimal protection against seizures. Vote Yes on Prop. 98

  4. Few protested the Kelo ruling more ardently than the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In an amicus brief filed in the case, it argued that “[t]he burden of eminent domain has and will continue to fall disproportionately upon racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and economically disadvantaged.” Unfettered eminent domain authority, the NAACP concluded, is a “license for government to coerce individuals on behalf of society’s strongest interests.”

    Wow, that argument sounds so familiar. I wonder, which political party has been making it?

    The GOP, advocates of smaller government and staunch protectors of economic liberty and laissez faire? Nope. Developers are big campaign contributors to the GOP.

    The Democratic party, defenders of the little guy, vigilant guardians of the rights of the powerless? Nope. Urban renewal and government planning is needed to help the downtrodden. You can’t make an omelet …

    The Libertarian party, those selfish, racist uncaring assholes who arrogantly believe that property ownership grants you the right to do what the fuck you want with your own property? Yep.

  5. The reason minorities aren’t up-in-arms is because, as Rev. Wright informed us, they don’t think logically. Therefore, they are unable to comprehend logic’s associate priciple. To them, there simply is no connection between takings and civil rights.

  6. Civil Rights activists don’t even pay lip service to ending prohibition.

    Because we aren’t free if we’re not healthy. Prohibition makes us healthy.

  7. Yeah, Paul. Civil Rights activists are obsessed with health.


  8. Paul, A lot of us could use less freedom. I need mine cut in half. I’m confident we’ll get there some day…

  9. I think Paul is the new funniest poster on-site.

  10. Developers are big campaign contributors to the GOP.

    “Developer” is a mostly meaningless word Democrats throw around to malign Republicans. It’s a big bogeyman they use to scare voters, just as Republicans use the omg-unions scare.

    A developer was probably involved getting your residential development developed. No really! That’s why they’re called “developers”! Some developers are unscrupulous and will use city hall connections to their own benefit, but that’s hardly unique to the profession. The only reason developers tend to contribute to Republican campaigns slightly more than they do to Democratic campaigns, is that as bad as Republicans are, at least they can spell “property rights”.

  11. A newspaper in Minneapolis ran an editorial about the urban highways projects back in the 60s or early 70s:

    “There aren’t very many black people in Minneapolis, but the Highway Department managed to find them.”

    (I guess “Women and minorities hardest hit” logic actually is acceptable to libertarians under the right circumstances.)

  12. (I guess “Women and minorities hardest hit” logic actually is acceptable to libertarians under the right circumstances.)

    Like when it’s true.

  13. Brandybuck, would you have preferred I used “moneyed interests”? 😉

  14. What a bunch of horseshit. How many of you actually know someone who has had property taken through the eminent domain process? The State has hundreds of policies and programs far more destructive towards the poor and minorities.

    Eminent doman is a trope. It is a little morality play where the big evil government forces some little wonderful guy off of his ancestral home. In reality, it’s just as likely the guy who owns the property needed for the interstate is treating his shack like a winning lottery ticket demanding ten or 100 times its value.

    Eminent domain for “economic development” is horseshit. Eminent domain to build an interstate is just the cost of doing business.

  15. Developers are big campaign contributors to the GOP.

    And to the Dems. Big-time developers need access at city hall, and they tend to be completely non-ideological about who they buy access from. They’d be fools to be partisan, because it will bite them in the wallet someday if they are.

  16. I wish the legal attempt to take Judge Souter’s property by eminent domain could’ve lasted longer. Most judges need to understand the impact of eminent domain on individuals.

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