Volume 4

Strong and Informed Advocacy Can Shape the Law: A Personal Journey

Michael M. Berger

Without advocacy, there are no rights. Nice words on paper, perhaps, but not rights. Rights need to be enforced to be meaningful. As the United States Supreme Court has said repeatedly, economic advantages do not become “rights” until “they have the law back of them” and when courts preclude others from interfering with those rights. Enforcement of such rights is done by advocates, because courts are not self-starters. Someone has to bring cases to them—lawyers.

In the realm of protected rights, the rights of property owners were for many years strangely orphaned creatures—“poor relations,” as the Supreme Court once noted.2 Ensconced in the Bill of Rights alongside the rights to life and liberty, property rights found few defenders. Those who were interested in property at all seemed to come at it from the other side.

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4 BRIGHAM-KANNER PROPERTY RIGHTS CONF. J. 1 (2015)