Fighting for life and property

Two of the most intriguing and profound public initiatives in years will appear on Mississippi voters’ ballots Tuesday.

Initiative 31 would protect property owners from having private developers use the government to take their land by force, through “eminent domain.” Proposition 26 would amend the state’s constitution to recognize that human life begins at conception.

These issues bear close watching; they regard two of our most fundamental human rights – that of life and property – and are not unique to Mississippi.

Remarkably, and regrettably, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 (Kelo v. City of New London) that governments can, indeed, take your property (with compensation) against your will and transfer it to another private entity which thinks it can do more with that land than you have. Some 43 states now have laws forbidding, or sharply discouraging, such takings; Mississippi’s would do the latter, requiring a prohibitive 10-year waiting period on such transfers.

A sad footnote: They never did develop Suzette Kelo’s Connecticut land after seizing it.

It’s pertinent to note that they can’t even do that with your car. Imagine a fellow pining for your vehicle – and using the government to order you to hand it over for its Blue Book value. Shouldn’t our homesteads and land be more sacred than our autos? It is wholly unconscionable and un-American to think one party could use the government to seize another’s property. Pray voters stand in the way on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Mississippi voters will cast ballots on the so-called “Personhood Amendment,” the most sweeping and democratic response to Roe v. Wade since the high court divined a right to abortion in 1973.

The amendment is breathtaking in its straightforwardness and clarity – as well as its logic: To this point, no one has documented any evidence that a fertilized human embryo has ever produced anything other than a human being. So the question is, are all humans created equal, and do they all enjoy the same rights enumerated in our Constitution? Or are our babies somehow less than human?

These are two of our most fundamental rights. Americans shouldn’t have to vote to get them back – but it’s beautiful that they’re finally getting that chance.

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Fri, 12/09/2016 - 11:15

Rick McKee Editorial Cartoon