Please Sit This One Out, Mr. President

Today’s Wall Street Journal expresses concern that President Bush may file an amicus brief in the upcoming, pivotal Kelo vs. New London eminent domain case:

“On the campaign trail last year, President Bush said a priority of his second term would be to “build an ownership society, because ownership brings security, and dignity, and independence.” Sounds good to us. But the rhetoric doesn’t square with news that the Administration may file an amicus brief against property owners in an upcoming Supreme Court case concerning eminent domain.

Never mind that there’s no pressing reason for the federal government to weigh in at all on the case, Kelo v. New London, since the issue before the court is a matter of state and local authority. What’s more strange, given the President’s ownership agenda and stated affinity for strict constructionism, is that the Bush Justice Department would consider siding with opponents of property rights.”

Reason Foundation echoes the Journal‘s concern. Reason, along with numerous other organizations, sent a letter to the President in October urging the Administration to stand up for property rights and refrain from filing a brief in the Kelo vs. New London case. We also filed an amicus brief in support of property rights. [Note for casual observers: it seems reasonable to ask why the Administration couldn’t just file a brief in support of property rights. But we’ve been told by those in the know that, according to Administration officials and veterans of this process, only two realistic options exist – the Administration can weigh in negatively or not at all. Hence, filing no brief would be the only option that would defend property rights.] Let’s hope that the Administration stands up for the “Ownership Society.” For more background on Kelo vs. New London, see here. Also, check out Reason’s Eminent Domain Resource Center for the latest on this issue.