07 September, 2008

The Candidates and Property Rights

This is the twenty-ninth post in an ongoing series regarding the major Presidential candidates and their views on civil liberties.

This post is about Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) and Senator Barack Obama's (D-IL) views on property rights.

This post was supposed to be about "privacy rights" but when I started doing the research, I realized that I had covered everything in earlier posts, particularly the Fourth Amendment.

Property rights have been constantly under attack for quite a while. When you pay your property tax on your home, you're giving up a tiny bit of your property rights. When government uses eminent domain to confiscate property for their use or for use by another, that is a large abuse of property rights.

How do the candidates stack up on property rights?

As usual, we'll be starting with Obama.

Ok, I admit to being stunned speechless.

I can find nothing, no position statements, no votes, nothing at all with respect to Barack Obama and property rights. The only thing I found is that he supports "the same property rights for gays as heterosexuals", but that's a gay right, not a property right. He's weak on the Second Amendment, and taking away your gun is definitely taking away your property. And he says that the Justices who supported the Kelo decision are his model for Supreme Court Justices, but that's all I have. I found several right wing blogs that said such things as "his record on property rights is abhorrent", but without examples as to why.

I admit, that's not much. But it's all I have.

So, on to McCain.

I have much more news on McCain and it's nearly universally good.

A speech in Iowa:

And central to our ideals is the sanctity of property rights. Without private property there can be no freedom, and without freedom there can be no America.

"Property," John Adams wrote, "is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty." Yet today property rights come under attack from regulations that affect every conceivable aspect of property ownership. Mr. Adams would be shocked to learn what both the United States Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Connecticut did to Susette Kelo, an American homeowner, in allowing the government to seize her home for economic development and gain under the guise of "valid public use."


In state after state, polls make clear that the American public understands the Kelo ruling is a disaster: 82 percent of Ohioans oppose using eminent domain to take property for economic development, 91 percent of Minnesotans, 92 percent of Kansans, 95 percent of Coloradans, and 86 percent of Missourians. The American public has spoken with one voice, and they're saying that this is not right.

I have co-sponsored legislation to forbid this kind of government taking; Congress and the States should follow Iowa's lead and pass such laws. But laws defending private property are only as secure as the judges that defend those laws. Kelo passed narrowly, supported by a five to four majority with a track record of legislating from the bench. As President, I pledge to appoint strict constructionist judges who respect the Constitution and understand the security of private property it provides. If need be, I would seek to amend the Constitution to protect private property rights in America.

This is not a one time event. He has repeatedly condemned the Kelo decision.

Both candidates have bloggers that say they'll be great/destroy intellectual property rights. I wasn't able to find anything worth quoting.


Obama: B-. He starts with a B, since there's so little, and I docked him a little based on his views on the Second Amendment.

McCain: A. He has said a lot of good words, but he needs more actions to bump up his grade to an A+. Plus, he's not the best on the Second Amendment either.

Property Rights: Advantage McCain

Results so far:
  Obama McCain
First Amendment F D-
Second Amendment D- C-
Third Amendment B B
Fourth Amendment D+ D+
Fifth Amendment D+ B-
Sixth Amendment B B
Seventh Amendment C C
Eighth Amendment C B
Eleventh Amendment B+ B-
Thirteenth Amendment D+ B+
Fourteenth Amendment D+ C+
Fifteenth Amendment B B
Nineteenth Amendment B B
Twenty-First Amendment A- A-
Twenty-Third Amendment A- B
Twenty-Fourth Amendment B B
Twenty-Sixth Amendment B B
Taxes D B-
Abortion A+ D
National ID F F
Voter ID A+ F
Card Check F A+
Legalization of Drugs D+ F
Gay Rights A- D
Hate Crime Legislation F C
Growth of Government F A-
Property Rights B- A

UPDATE: Obama's First Amendment grade lowered to F as documented in this post.

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