The Liberal Case For Property Rights

A. Barton Hinkle cheers Virginia Democrats who are open to reforming eminent domain laws, arguing that the left shouldn't be put off by the fact that the cause is usually associated with the right:

Property rights, like free-speech rights, benefit everyone and eminent-domain reform should be a liberal cause for a number of reasons... there's the David-vs.-Goliath aspect. You don't hear about many eminent-domain cases pitting scrappy local governments against Lockheed Martin, Exxon or Proctor & Gamble. To the contrary, recent cases have involved:

•Roanoke seizing a building that belonged to the owners of a mom-and-pop flooring company so it could turn the property over to Carilion, a billion-dollar health-care corporation.

•Norfolk trying to seize the property of Central Radio so it could hand the land over to Old Dominion University.

•VDOT trying to cheat a small day-care owner out of just compensation and spending more on lawyers to fight the case than it would have shelled out by paying her original asking price.

In these and other cases, those rooting for the underdog share common cause with property-rights activists.

Balko agrees:

This is a pretty important credibility issue for the left. We aren’t talking about public use, here. If you can’t bring yourself to support laws barring the government from taking land from poor people to give it to rich developers, it’s pretty darned clear that your priority isn’t protecting or advocating for the poor, it’s preserving government power. Or just opposing property rights because you don’t like the people who support them.