4/02/2006

Weare, N.H.: Public Voted Libertarian in Eminent Domain Loss? The Hammer of Truth

By Stephen Gordon

I know, the title is a bit confusing, and I’ll explain. The explanation will probably piss a few of you off, too.

According to the NY Post ... the Lost Liberty Hotel is now a no-go as local voters just rejected the proposal to evict U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter from his farmhouse by the use of eminent domain.

A group angered by last year’s court decision that gave local governments more power to seize people’s homes for economic development had petitioned to use the ruling against the justice.

But voters deciding which issues should go on the town’s March ballot replaced the group’s proposal with a call to strengthen New Hampshire’s law on eminent domain.

“This is a game,” said Walter Bohlin. “Why would we take something from one of ours? This is not the appropriate way.”

Like most Americans, I’ve certainly been angered by the Kelo decision, but to use the concept of democracy to apply eminent domain is no better than using judicial means. To begin, if it is wrong for the local development company to take my land, it is just as wrong for me to take the land of another. Two wrongs don’t make a right, even when done in the name of something just.

Joshua Solomon, a member of the Committee for the Protection of Natural Rights, was disappointed with the vote.

This seems a bit oxymoronic. How can someone who is allegedly protecting natural rights be upset when the attempt to seize the natural rights of another is thwarted?

Had the voters in Weare decided to use force to remove Justice Souter from his home, it probably would have have motivated votes to remove people from their homes and businesses in other communities. Like the Lost Liberty Hotel concept, the first vote or two might be a bit amusing — like forcing some corrupt mayor from his home or shutting down a local Wal-Mart. The next round of votes might be applied to shut down a strip club or porn shop. Then the local diner gets shut down to make room for a new chain restuarant. Then your neighbors can vote to kick you out of your house simply because you ran out of time to cut the yard or they don’t like the color of your house. This slipperly slope is a move away from individual rights and towards collectivist thinking.

The voters did the right thing by deciding to toughen eminent domain laws as opposed to applying eminent domain through the ballot box — which makes them more principled than the thousands of libertarians screaming for someone else’s private property.

Let the hate mail begin…


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