Yesterday’s outpouring of concern in the conservative half of the blogosphere over the Supreme Court’s decision in the Kelo case was striking, and, to those who recognize the importance of property rights, heartening. If you are concerned about the steady erosion of property rights, you should be very glad that the Senate has confirmed Judge Janice Rogers Brown to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Because Judge Brown is one of the most eloquent and vigorous defenders of property rights on the contemporary scene. One of Brown’s decisions that the Left tried to characterize as “out of the mainstream” was her dissent, while on the California Supreme Court, in a case called San Remo Hotel v. City and County of San Francisco. The case involved a restriction that the City of San Francisco placed on the owners of residence hotels that sought to convert to tourist hotels. The right to convert the use of the property was conditioned on the owner’s creation of an equal number of low-income residence units, or payment of a special tax to underwrite the City’s creation of low-income housing. Thus, the cost of supplying low-income housing within the City was shifted away from the taxpayers generally to a few hundred hotel owners, and the special levy was enforced by otherwise barring the hotel owners from putting their property to its most economic use. Justice Brown found the City’s scheme to be both an uncontitutional taking and a violation of a California statute guaranteeing the right to convert such hotels.
Here is how Justice Brown began her dissent:
Americans are a diverse group of hard-working, confident, and creative people molded into a nation not by common ethnic identity, cultural legacy, or history; rather, Americans have been united by a dream