While Virginia’s electorate will be focused on the presidential, U.S. Senate, Congressional and some local elections in November, pretty much in that order — and the Mainstream Media will be obsessed with the horse race and issueless aspects of the campaigns and protesting that the candidates are not addressing issues, all while ignoring the candidates’ issues — Virginians will have the opportunity to ratify an amendment to protect private property rights . We have made this a priority issue since the Supreme Court’d deplorable 2005 decision in Kelo v. New London, Conn., that allowed government to take one’s property and transfer it to another private entity.
The ruling did say, however, that it was a state issue, and many states that did not have constitutional protections hurried to ratify the basic right of private property ownership into their state constitutions. But here in the Old Dominion, we did things the Virginia way . . . and dragged and dragged and dragged our feet some more. Finally, seven years after Suzette Kelo had her 100-year-old family home taken from her for an “economic development” project that was never built, this November Virginians will have the chance to ratify an amendment to the Virginia Constitution that will not only protect private property rights but also provide for just compensation for when eminent domain must be used for legitimate public uses.
We will provide more commentary and follow the ratification campaign as it develops this summer and fall. But for now, please view the video below (or click here) about Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Virginia Beach. Although a settlement with the city of Virginia Beach was reached a few days ago, this interview with its pastor and attorney Joe Waldo previous to the settlement shows just how important property rights are: In many respects, it is the first right, because without ownership of private property and its safeguard from the government, there is no guarantee of a place from which to speak freely, nor to worship, nor to make a living for one’s family.
For those who care about halting the growth of big government, of exercising restraint in government growth and limiting government’s power, this is the ultimate issue. With unchecked power of eminent domain, there is no limit on what government can take, how big it can grow or what it can do under the guise of “economic development” or any other expedient excuse it deems for the public good. Taking land is every bit a part of government’s addiction to expanding as taking families’ hard earned tax dollars.
Virginians will have the opportunity to end the tyranny of eminent domain in November by ratifying a constitutional amendment to the state constitution to protect private property rights from big government.