Monday, September 24, 2012

Property Rights: A Foundation of Our Liberty

September 23, 2012

Dear Friends and Fellow Virginians,

"Property must be sacred or liberty cannot exist." - John Adams

Perhaps you've heard we have an election this November? Virginians have an opportunity to elect a new President and U.S. Senator.

We will also have an opportunity to solidify one of the most fundamental principles upon which our country was founded: the protection of property rights.

While this may not be as glamorous as the Romney-Obama race, nor as high profile as the Allen-Kaine contest, it is critical to correcting a shortcoming of Virginia's state constitution.

We do not get our rights from government, we get them from our Creator.

Protecting property rights is an application of natural law. It is one of the foundations for our liberty. Without basic property rights, our culture and economy crumble.

Unfortunately this fact is often lost on our politicians. President Obama has come under attack (rightfully so) for abuses of government power, but when it comes to property rights, he is not the most egregious offender.

The biggest threat to property rights comes from our own backyard: locally elected officials. There are plenty of local governments that despise the notion that individual rights may ever impede their personal notion of "progress." They're exactly the ones that need to be reined in.

It's a sad reality that we're used to seeing our liberty erode over time. Along this path of liberty lost to government was the Kelo vs. City of New London case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005.  In Kelo, the court ruled in favor of allowing New London to take the homes of individual citizens and transfer their land to another private owner - in that case, the $150 billion drug company Pfizer - to further their city council's economic development goals.

Sounds great, right? Who doesn't want economic development?

The City of New London forced an entire neighborhood out of their homes, many of whom had lived there for decades. The city argued that this would spur development and increase the tax revenues of the City.  Also, New London worked out a deal to bring Pfizer's headquarters to town and Mrs. Kelo's neighborhood was standing in the way.

The Court ruled against property rights. The sheriff evicted people from their own homes. Homes were bulldozed. And to finish this utopian tale, the developer was never able to secure financing and the land was left empty.

Right here in Virginia this same sort of battle is happening. Earlier this month I went down to Norfolk where a local company, Central Radio, is fighting condemnation of its property. The owner said that their location is pivotal to their business. Without it they're dead in the water. We can't stand idly by as government kicks individuals off their land and sacrifices our fundamental principles.

Have you ever heard of Wal-mart having its property taken by eminent domain? The government may have had the "intention" of economic development, but make no mistake about it: the people that are hurt most by unlawful eminent domain seizures are the poor and politically defenseless.

By voting in favor of the Virginia Eminent Domain Amendment (Question 1) this November, we have an opportunity to reclaim our rights. This amendment will prohibit eminent domain from being used to take property from individuals and give it to private developers under the guise of increasing tax revenues. We all know that when the government tries to pick winners, we all lose.

I urge you to vote yes on Question 1, and put our fundamental property rights into our fundamental document—Virginia's Constitution. It's high time that we fight back against the overreach of government... at every level!


Ken Cuccinelli, II
Attorney General of Virginia

Paid for and authorized by Ken Cuccinelli for Governor

Ken Cuccinelli for Governor, 10560 Main Street, Suite 218, Fairfax, VA 22030

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