October 22, 2004


Demos pounce on Vitter's house deed: Front-runner calls wording abhorrent (Bill Walsh, October 22, 2004, New Orleans Times Picayune)

U.S. Senate race front-runner David Vitter is under attack from Democrats for buying a house in Old Metairie in 1996 with a deed that specified it could only be sold "to people of the white race," a decades-old provision Vitter said he didn't know about.

Vitter said he never saw the exclusion. He condemned the use of such covenants, once relatively common on residential properties in the New Orleans area, and said they would be illegal anyway.

Can't remember off-hand which Reagan appointee to the Court was similarly attacked until it turned out that Ted Kennedy and six of the sitting Justices had similar deed provisions--they're apparently almost impossible to excise.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 22, 2004 8:51 AM

Let's hope you're right that this is a non-issue. Vitter has been running in the mid 40s in the polls and, if he didn't get 50% on 11/2 would be in the runoff in December for the LA Senate seat. This seat looked like a good possibility of a GOP pickup - the polls next week will tell if this issue hurt him or not.

Posted by: AWW at October 22, 2004 9:02 AM


What he's going to lose the black vote? Remember LA rejected an Indian candidate for governor because he was too dark.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2004 9:11 AM

They're not "almost impossible" to excise, just inconvenient and expensive. Title insurance companies want deed language copied exactly, exactly and it often takes some sort of court action to reform a deed. Since racial restrictiions running with the land are a legal nullity, a common-sense approach would be to do nothing. The existence of such language is not even symbolic, since the words are of no effect.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 22, 2004 3:24 PM

It was Rehnquist running for the Supreme Court, who bought a vacation home in Vermont with these restrictions.

When I was in college, I paid for tuition, along with beer and pizza, by working as a title searcher. There are all kinds of restrictions of this nature. I once remember a deed restriction in Middlesex County from the 20s which read inter alia 'This property may not be sold to any Jews, Italians or any other swarthy type.' It got me thinking. Since I am Jewish but blond haired, fair skinned and blue eyed am I still a swarthy type?

Posted by: Bart at October 22, 2004 4:15 PM