Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Book Review: Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage (2009).

As former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart observed, "'[P]roperty does not have rights, only people do.'" (p. 254 [attorney Scott Bullock quoting Potter Stewart].)

In other words, with eminent domain, it's about people, not property.

Jeff Benedict's Little Pink House especially reveals and revels in the human drama surrounding the Kelo v. City of New London Supreme Court case, involving the taking of Susette Kelo's (and others') property for a development benefiting Pfizer, Inc.

While I was generally familiar with the case, and even heard Justice Antonin Scalia speak about it shortly after the Supreme Court handed down its controversial decision (see August 30 and September 2, 2005, posts), Benedict's hard investigatory work and clear prose explicated the remarkable milieu in which this case arose, uncovering many intriguing aspects the MSM doubtlessly missed. The twists and turns were far too dramatic to be fiction. Among other things, Benedict explains what happened after the High Court's opinion to these folks and their properties and the unexpected tragedies befalling some of the property owners' apart from the takings.

In addition to expertly capturing the human drama, Benedict ably grasped the legalities. In fact, he did such an excellent job describing, in layperson terms, the legal maneuvers that I strongly suspected he had some legal training. However, nothing on the book's jacket revealed that he was a lawyer--instead, it mentioned his authorship of seven books and numerous published articles as well as his position teaching writing at Southern Virginia University.

I found the answer buried in the acknowledgements when Benedict mentioned in passing that someone offered him his first commercial-publishing contract when he was a first-year law student. (p. 381.) Bingo.

Highly recommended to lawyer and layperson alike.