Friday, June 24, 2005

The Supreme Court Gets It Wrong

I don't often disagree with the Supreme Court, but when I do it's a doozy. (Fun game--what's the origin of the word 'doozy'?) I cannot believe this week's ruling that says that governments can take private property from individuals and give it to others. Eminent domain (schools, roads, dams, parks) is one thing, but taking property to give to a developer to increase the tax base is a bastardization of American values.

That sound you hear is that of the Founding Fathers spinning in their graves.

As usual, Glenn has the best roundup of opinions on the topic here, here, and here.

And John has a unique take on the potential repercussions of this decision here, where he writes in part:

Just think of the Kelo-created possibilities:

  • Not enough "diversity" in the city? Piece of post-Kelo cake: just condemn a sufficient number of the Mom and Pop shops or bodegas owned by resident minorities and hand them over to owners from different ethnic groups who can provide much needed "diversity" to the sadly uniform neighborhoods.
  • No diversity in the management of Ford? General Motors? Detroit and Michigan should be able to fix that in a Kelo minute.
  • Residential "segregation" a problem in the suburbs? If it's legitimate to take someone's home in order to help a city's tax base or create the possibility for future jobs, surely it is legitimate to take a suburbanites home -- indeed, to take many suburbanites' homes -- in order to produce the "diversity" that has already been found to be "compelling" elsewhere.
Indeed, if liberals don't go down these roads, won't their failure to do so suggest that "diversity" isn't such a compelling public purpose after all?

Update, 6/24/05 1:29 pm: Here's a link to a site listing several attempts by local governments to take land away from landowners. Such theft is now openly legal in this country. You socialists who believe that business is the cause of all problems and that government is the solution--who do you think they'll give this taken land to? Hint: developers and big-box stores that will generate more tax revenue. So much for looking out for the individual, huh?

Update #2, 6/27/05 6:50 pm: Is this what it's come to now? The Congress has to pass new laws to protect rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights that the Supreme Court has now seen fit to ignore?


Kimberly Lloyd said...

The decision in Kelo v. New London angers and frightens me. Thomas is right -- the court has obliterated any meaning to the "public use" clause of the Fifth Amendment. I also don't think this issue is getting any attention outside of the blogosphere. My local paper covered it -- on page C-11, inside back cover of the sports section (on the "business" page). I'm graduating this summer (defending my thesis tomorrow, actually), starting a job in September, and I was going to start saving up for a down payment on a house. Now I guess I have to make sure my house is next to my city councilman's, as otherwise it's fair game.

The diversity angle is interesting. It's also been suggested that churches, synagogues, and mosques could be closed under the same reasoning -- after all, they pay no taxes, so turning them into ANY other kind of residential or commercial land will guarantee more taxes, all that's required under this decision.

Darren said...

I thought this one was a slam-dunk. How could they have gotten this so wrong?

When you look at who dissented and who agreed, it's pretty clear why the President needs to get some strict-constructionists on the Court.

Coach Brown said...


I posted an opinion on my site. You won't like the fact that I think eminent domain is a necessity. You will like that fact that I think this particular case throws out the foundation of the Constitution and basically labels it unnecessary. I guess the whole concept of private property goes flying out the window, eh?
Oh well, who needs the opinions and values of the Founders anyway?

Darren said...

Coach, of course eminent domain is necessary. I'm not convinced, though, that forcibly taking someone's property and letting a private entity have it, even if that private entity will generate more tax revenue, constitutes enough of a public use to satisfy the framers' intent. But as you say, who needs the opinions and values of the Founders anyway?

Scott Lawton said...

It's great to see widespread coverage of this issue across the blogosphere. Next step: take action to mitigate the effects of Kelo: join the Castle Coalition ( The usual disclaimer: my only affiliation is the modest $ I've contributed over the years.