Justice Sandra Day O’Connor gave a 20-minute video presentation on October 14 when she accepted the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize that was awarded in Beijing at the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference jointly hosted by William & Mary Law School and Tsinghua University. The video is now available and can be viewed here. In her speech, Justice O’Connor weaves the Thomas Jefferson connection with the founding of William & Mary Law School to his views, and John Locke’s, on property rights and the proper role of government. She ends with her take on Kelo. One wonders what the Chinese hosts thought of her recitation of Jefferson and Locke’s admonition that governments that do not protect the property of their citizens are not legitimate governments. In particular, O’Connor said:
Locke continued that “whenever legislators endeavor to take away, and destroy the Property of the People . . . they put themselves into a state of War with the People.” In justifying the Declaration, Jefferson wrote that “governments are instituted among men” to secure their rights, and that “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends,” it is the right of people to alter or abolish it.
Revolutionary thoughts in a revolutionary land!