Property Rights, Human Rights, Civil Rights

Lynne Kiesling

John Fund’s Monday column reinforces the point with respect to Kelo that not only are property rights human rights, they are also civil rights.

Martin Luther King III, a former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, says that “eminent domain should only be used for true public projects, not to take from one private owner to give to another wealthier private owner.” In 2001 he joined with the free-market Institute for Justice (which represented the Kelo plaintiffs) to stop the state of Mississippi from uprooting homeowners to make room for a Nissan truck factory. After he compared the state’s actions to “a giant stepping on a grasshopper,” public opposition to the taking mounted. The state finally announced that Nissan had come up with a way to redesign its facility so that the homeowners wouldn’t have to leave.

The sanctity of property is a natural right, which necessarily makes it pre-political, and the foundation of all other (negatively defined and compossible) rights.