Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Actually, what I mean is: should conservatives portray eminent domain as a civil rights issue? Recently, Law Prof Ilya Somin (a great advocate of property rights) testified at a US Commission on Civil Rights hearing on the “Civil Rights Implications of Eminent Domain Abuse.”
Somin’s basic point was summed up in his introduction ”Americans of all racial and ethnic backgrounds have suffered from government violations of constitutional property rights. But minority groups have often been disproportionately victimized, sometimes out of racial prejudice and at other times because of their relative political weakness.” He’s absolutely right. In the 2005 Kelo case, the Supreme Court blessed the power of state and local governments to seize “blighted” property — a thinly-veiled code for poor, and typically black, neighborhoods.
But when Somin posted his testimony to the Volokh Conspiracy, a lot of readers objected to his using a “disparate impact” type of argument against violations of property rights. After all, even if unconstitutional ”takings” affected only middle class whites, they would still be just as unconstitutional. On the other hand, emphasizing the “disparate impact” might be a good strategy for winning people over to the correct side of the “takings” debate. But then, are we legitimizing the argument that constitutional rights have to be judged by their impact on certain groups..?
What do you say?