A. Barton Hinkle on Opponents of Virginia's Eminent Domain Initiative


The closing days of the election gave Virginia voters a rare treat says: multiple voices warning them not to protect their own constitutional rights too much.

You see attacks on constitutional rights all the time says A. Barton Hinkle. During the Bush years conservatives denounced the Supreme Court for recognizing the habeas corpus rights of alleged enemy combatants. Liberals routinely demand tougher gun control. But in those cases the real argument is that certain people—terrorists, gun owners—are claiming rights they do not actually have.

In Virginia, the argument against ballot Question 1—a measure amending the state constitution to restrict government takings of private property—was considerably different. Those opposing it universally agreed individuals have a right to property. They just didn't like the amendment protecting that right.