by Steven Geoffrey Gieseler
It was my privilege to speak this evening at the rally to end eminent domain abuse held in Riviera Beach, Florida. As Tim Sandefur has noted elsewhere, Riviera Beach is the site of one of the more audacious government attempts to infringe on property rights–and ignore the rule of law–in recent memory. On behalf of Riviera Beach taxpayers and the Orlando-based Coalition for Property Rights, PLF has filed suit to stop the city's efforts.
The people who gathered in Riviera Beach on the anniversary of the Kelo decision exhibited much resolve to save both their homes and the good name of their city. These citizens would have a valid claim to bitterness over what their government is trying to do. Yet the general theme of the rally was one of hope and optimism that Florida's new eminent domain law, among the strongest such measures in the nation, will win the day. Speakers ranging from affected property owners to Steven Anderson of the Castle Coalition shared their perspectives on the importance of property rights in a just and free society.
The rally was attended by major local television news stations and by politicians (and aspiring politicians) of both parties, a testament to the public's interest in and support for protecting private property. Even two candidates seeking the same Florida House seat–their campaign literature reflecting wildly different promises of what they would do once in office–found common ground in respecting the law and stopping eminent domain abuse.
In short, the Riviera Beach rally was an example of democracy at its best seeking to counteract democracy at its worst.