Invasion of the Landsnatchers

Eminent domain abuse has made more news in the recent couple years (although not getting the attention it likely deserves in mainstream press). Two examples I've particularly come across has been the Wal-Mart example in Alabama – a situation radio host Neal Boortz hammered on frequently last year – and a local story involving a Jeep plant in Toledo. Many times, this involves the government nudging out private homeowners and making way for large (read: “heavier tax base”) corporations.

Today we find an unfortunate ruling by the Surpeme Court blessing personal property grabs.

Read more about eminent domain abuse at the Castle Coalition.

UPDATE (6/24): As I mentioned above, I've noticed that radio personality Neal Boortz has been particularly vocal over eminent domain the past year or so. This morning he gives his reaction to the SC decision.

Share this

Scott, I greatly admire your

Scott, I greatly admire your rationality. But please, this is the time to cry havok. This is the most blatantly illiberal goverment action I've seen, perhaps ever. This ruling even disgusts some of my leftist friends in Berkeley. The lawyer for the Connecticut homeowners said, "I think there's going to be an unbelievable popular backlash to this decision," and he could be right. The opportunity therein is that it could be a libertarian backlash, uniting much of the left and right. I really think you guys should organize something on the order of May Day to get the blog blood boiling over this.

One last point Scott.

One last point Scott. Arguing that the local government knows better than a federal judge is ingenuous, at best. The reality is that the question is whether taking my property and bulldozing my home so that Pfizer can buy it and build a strip mall is "public use". This isn't a federal judge legislating from the bench, except through the most tortured interpretation. It was not until very recently (the 1980's) that anyone argued that Emininent Domain extended beyond actual government acquisition and use of the land. For 200 years the tradition and history of property rights was that the government could not take from one private entity and give (or force to be sold) the property to another private entity. The court has now stood that on its head and ruled that if a municipal city council wants to do that, they can.

I don't disagree with your

I don't disagree with your reading of the 14th amendment. I was merely pointing out some of its history.

Brandon, I’m less sure

Brandon,

I’m less sure about this, but I do suspect that this view is historically inaccurate, and that the original intent was that the 14th Amendment do no such thing.

The Wikipedia entry seems to suggest otherwise, but I'm not sure how authoritative it is.

Eric, None of the Bill of

Eric,

None of the Bill of Rights originally applied to the state governments. It was not until the passage of the 14th amendment and the so called Doctrine of Incorporation that the Bill of Rights was thought to apply to state governments as well.

See, for information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incorporation_%28Bill_of_Rights%29

As to how what New London did being different than what King George did, the actor in the New London was a city. King George was a distant King. The former is a much smaller government.

I believe that the 14th

I believe that the 14th Amendment was fully intended to apply significant portions of the Bill of Rights to the states. This is based on my own historical reading and is as best I can gather. So, in any case, whether it was intended on day one or 90 years later, the intent in the Constitution now is that the restrictions contained within it apply to all governments, whether federal, state or local.

I'm willing to bet that you wouldn't argue that each municipality should be able to set whatever laws they would like to restricting free speech, or enabling double jeopardy.

So, the only difference between the tyranny of King George when he usurped property rights and that of the New London city council is a factor of distance? Sorry, tyranny is tyranny, that is yet another minor issue that does not outweigh the major issue. The court has made it absolutely clear that they don't agree with state's rights, in general, for the past decades.

I see very little in this ruling to change that. I absolutely disagree that any government, whether local, state or federal, has any right to supersede my property rights, except when I am doing harm to my neighbors. I grudgingly accept eminent domain for true public use (very grudgingly). I think it is a serious mistake for any who believe in natural rights to argue that states should be able to override the constitution for those things enumerated in the constitution. I'm all for Originalism, including the amendments. That means I have to accept the original intent of the 14th Amendment as well.

But other provisions of the

But other provisions of the 5th Amendment are not considered to be only Federal in nature; double jeopardy, for example. So, why would this one clause of the Amendment be determined to apply only to the Federal government? The Amendment doesn’t say that. We don’t argue that a state or local government can limit free speech, do we?

Actually, the First Amendment starts off with "Congress shall make no law..." so it's pretty clear that it was not intended to restrict actions of the state governments. Most of the others are in the passive voice ("...the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"), so it's not made explicit to whom these restrictions apply.

Someone with greater knowledge of the history of and debate surrounding the Bill of Rights could probably say for sure, but I'm very nearly certain that they were understood at the time to apply only to the Federal Government, because the whole purpose of the Bill of Rights was to assuage fears about federal tyranny in order to get state governments to ratify the Constitution.

The idea that these restrictions apply to state governments as well is based on the view that the 14th Amendment made state governments subject to some of the restrictions in the Bill of Rights (and by "some," I mean not the Second Amendment). I'm less sure about this, but I do suspect that this view is historically inaccurate, and that the original intent was that the 14th Amendment do no such thing.

But other provisions of the

But other provisions of the 5th Amendment are not considered to be only Federal in nature; double jeopardy, for example. So, why would this one clause of the Amendment be determined to apply only to the Federal government? The Amendment doesn't say that. We don't argue that a state or local government can limit free speech, do we?

And I don't think anyone, except for the revenue agents and real estate developers, really thinks that what happened in New London is public use.

Tell me, how is what New London is doing any different from what King George III did?

Strictly speaking, the

Strictly speaking, the purpose of the Fifth Amendment was to govern the takings of the federal government, not the states'.

As it stands, I disagree on the balancing, but I'm not entirely sure how we could determine it one way or the other.

Scott, sorry, I still

Scott, sorry, I still disagree. And yes, I did read the opinion. The purpose of the 5th amendment was not to allow state legislatures to determine when your land was more valuable to them for property taxes than in your hands. This is a case where the immense damage done by the decision to property rights far outweighs the minor state's rights portion of the decision. Taking land from one private citizen and giving it to another private citizen is not public use. This is a 9th and 10th amendment issue.

Eric, I disagree. Did you

Eric,

I disagree. Did you read the opinion? Much is made of deferring to the state legislature. The writer even goes so far as to suggest that those unhappy with this result should lobby their state legislators to change the relevant laws. That seems the very archetype of federalism.

If federalism is dead, let us be careful not to step on its hands as it tries to rise from the grave.

Trent, the "federalism"

Trent, the "federalism" decision is a fig leaf. They essentially said that a local government knows better what should be done with your private property than a federal court.

First I've read of any of

First I've read of any of this, but did the judges decide thsi on federalism? Are you kidding me? Federalism is dead - except, of course, when the state and locals are violating rights.

Scott, the state's rights

Scott, the state's rights peace of this is so minor it's not worth touching on, and, in truth, appears to be a fig leaf for the SC to hide behind.

If anybody is interested in

If anybody is interested in the actual opinion, see:

http://wid.ap.org/documents/scotus/050623kelo.pdf

More Reactions to Kelo A

More Reactions to Kelo
A round up of the reactions to Kelo v. New London, today's Supreme Court decision that dramatically extended the powers of government and shredded the 5th Amendment. My own response and my earlier post on the value of Originalism. Brad...

"Very clever, these checks

"Very clever, these checks and balances, very clever. But it’s turtles all the way down."

Why get mad at the court?

Why get mad at the court? The real bad guys are the politicians and people of New London who voted for them.

Let's not blame the voters.

Let's not blame the voters. Perhaps their choice of candidates was unsavory.

Well, if one supports

Well, if one supports states' rights, as I do, there is also reason to not be pissed.

Everyone is very, very

Everyone is very, very pissed about this.