The Sotomayor Hearings as a Step Forward for Property Rights:

A striking aspect of the Sotomayor confirmation hearing is that she got more questions about property rights than any other Supreme Court nominee in decades. In my post at the New York Times online panel on the hearings, I explain why this is a good thing, despite the generally unimpressive nature of her answers:

One of the most interesting developments in the hearings was the extensive questioning of Judge Sotomayor on property rights issues. In addition to questions posed by Republicans, Senator Herb Kohl, a Democrat from Wisconsin, criticized the Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London, which allowed the condemnation of property for transfer to other private individuals to promote "economic development."

Unfortunately, Judge Sotomayor's testimony on property rights was not especially impressive...

Still, Judge Sotomayor's answers were less important than the very fact of the questioning. Property rights are unlikely to advance beyond the "poor relation" status to which the Supreme Court has generally relegated them unless liberals as well as conservatives begin to support them. The Sotomayor hearings are another step in the right direction. Along with the widespread criticism of Kelo by liberals like Bill Clinton, Ralph Nader and the NAACP, the hearings represent some real progress. Unconstrained use of eminent domain harms minorities and the poor, a reality that has caused some long-awaited rethinking on the left.

I should note that I did not mean to say that the hearings were a "giant" step forward for property rights. That title was drafted by the Times (I hope to get them to change it). Rather, I think they represent modest incremental progress in the right direction.

UPDATE: I accidentally forgot to link to my NY Times piece in the original post. The oversight has now been corrected.