Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New Institute in Florida Pledges to Protect Property Rights

The Pacific Legal Foundation has created the Wade L. Hopping Institute for Private Property Rights. The Institute will fight to protect property rights through education and litigation. It will work, in part, through a network of pro bono attorneys to fight government abuse of property rights. It's a fitting tribute to Justice Hopping, with whom I had the privilege of working for at the firm he founded, Hopping Green & Sams.

The Institute already has environmental journalists and nonprofits worried. Their hand-wringing shows how much the Foundation's work is needed. Private property rights are about "individual autonomy and the enjoyment of liberty." But for folks like Monica Reimer of Earthjustice, private property rights can be reduced to nuisance claims. Ms. Reimer believes that growth management and environmental laws "were all intended to protect private property rights." Really? Those laws may have been intended, ostensibly, to protect the public health and safety. They may have intended to recognize "public environmental rights." Yet they have never been said to have been intended, first and foremost, to protect private property rights.

It's a testament to American's support for free enterprise that even environmentalists have hijacked the rhetoric of property rights advocates.