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Voice of the people

Feb. 12, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Decision reverses property protection

Kudos to George Will for his column "Norfolk's land grab..." (Herald-Dispatch, Jan. 25), wherein he derides Norfolk, Va. for its abuse of the power of eminent domain in taking a local business's property for the dubious benefit of a nearby university. This follows in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. New London, which upheld the action of a city in taking the property of a private individual so that it could be transferred to a private entity whose proposed use of the property promised to increase city revenues.

The founding fathers believed that the right to private property was essential to liberty and no less important than the right to life. The right of the people to be secure in their property was one of the issues that lead to the Revolutionary War. John Adams wrote, "Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist." James Madison stated: "Government is instituted to protect property of every sort." Supreme Court Justice John Sutherland told the N. Y. Bar Association: "...(T)he individual...has three great rights, equally sacred from government interference: the right to his life, the right to his liberty, and the right to his property.... These three rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right."

The 5th Amendment declares, "No person shall be... deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." Kelo vs. New London holds that this provision allows the taking of private property if the taking entity merely declares that a "public purpose" will be thereby served, thus effectively decimating the 5th Amendment's protection of the right to private property. No liberty-loving American should rest until that decision has been overturned.

Lawrence L. Pauley




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