It looks like I was wrong in my earlier post when I complained that the House of Representatives should have moved to ban "economic development" land seizures rather than just condemning them. Apparently the House also passed a bill to "bar federal funds from being used to make improvements on any lands seized for private development". According to John Fund, opposition to the elimination of property rights has brought many racial minority constituencies into alignment with the Republicans again.

Within a week of the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Kelo v. New London, Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and the longest-serving member of the Congressional Black Caucus, pronounced himself "shocked" to be joining with conservatives in backing a bill to bar federal funds from being used to make improvements on any lands seized for private development. He noted that the NAACP, Operation PUSH and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights all believe "this court opinion makes it too easy for private property to be taken and [this is a practice] that has been used historically to target the poor, people of color and the elderly." The measure blocking federal funds passed the House by 231-189. A companion resolution condemning the Kelo decision was approved 365-33. Only 10 of the 43 members of the Congressional Black Caucus and only two members of the Congrssional Hispanic Caucus voted against the latter measure.

Many Democrats who used to scoff at conservative fears about activist judges are now joining their barricades when it comes to eminent domain. "In a way this ruling is about civil rights because it interferes with your right to own and keep your property," says Wilhelmina Leigh, a research analyst with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington. "It means you have to hope and trust in the goodness of other human beings that if you buy real estate that you will be allowed to keep it." Few appear to be willing to trust government on this issue, which is why the Kelo decision has touched off such a populist reaction against it.

Good. Now we just need to muster the public will to hold the Supreme Court accountable for this kind of nonsense. Mass impeachments might be good, but I'll settle for a little support from the minority caucuses for President Bush's Supreme Court nominee(s) -- assuming he makes good picks.



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