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Tuesday, May 30, 2006 

Crunch Time

What is tomorrow? Kelo Crunch Time. As stated in the link, tomorrow is the deadline set by the New London City Council and the New London Development Corporation for the holdouts to either accept their "offer"” (moving the houses to a different parcel and paying rent for the rest of their lives) or face eviction and the assessment of $946,000 in back rents, taxes, and fees. I had no idea that the deadline was so soon. Many thanks to Volokh for the heads up.

When we discussed this in Land Use last semester, my professor was confused about the backlash of the Kelo case. Honestly, he's got a point. There is about a hundred years of caselaw that gives local governments (via the police power from the state) free reign to do what they deem to be for the health, welfare, and safety of the public. That includes using eminent domain to take title of property and give it to a private party. Well in my opinion, lots of precedent doesn't make it right. I guess that the best part about Kelo is that it did spark legislative reforms at the state level, including in Wisconsin. It's got to suck to lose a home that way though.

As a first time visit to your page, I leave somewhat confused, because in all due respect, how could you be against recent eminent domain rulings but support Republicans? Or am I wrong?

In the past, the fifth amendment has always been the center of much contention regarding the homeowners bundle of rights. The recent Supreme Court ruling(kelo)has redefined the term "public good," and in a single stroke has granted corporations and private investors full access to governmental powers permitting seizure and possession of private property whether it is for sale or not. You don't see the Republican agenda here? For a homeowner to lose the right to possess their property simply because another private entity can demonstrate potential investment returns and tax rewards as a result of seizure is preposterous and precisely the action the fifth amendment was designed to protect citizens against. The prevailing winds of profits and corporatism embedded in our government has chipped away at our civil rights and independence permitting the general acceptance to legislate takeovers of private property, public utilities and services in the name of business and other economic activities. More Republican agenda. Other public utilities traditionally provided by the taxpayers such as public roads, the National Weather Service, NPR and PBS just to name a few, have come under the same threat from misguided individuals in our now-for-profit Congress. The hostile seizure of all things public and private in the name of economic growth and profits for the few can hardly be described as for the common good. If this Supreme Court ruling is allowed to stand it will harden even more unconstitutional behavior such as corruption and class warfare in all three branches of government.
Certainly, Democrats have also been sucked into this because greed is bi-partisan. Outsourcing and our current wild west deregulated economy are just more heads of the same Republican monster.

I don't think Kelo did redefine the term "public good", not if you read the cases that came before it. In many ways, Kelo is the rational conclusion of the Court's eminent domain jurisprudence. I think that the Court has been wrong for a long time, but that doesn't change the case law.

The courts have always deferred to legislative bodies in determining what was the "public good". State legislatures (and municipalities through delegated powers) have what is called the police power. This gives them legislative powers much greater than those of the federal government.

And if you want even clearer proof about who supports Kelo-style eminent domain use, look at who was in the majority: Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer. That's a pile of liberal justices. Who dissented? Rehnquist, O'Connor, Scalia, and Thomas. Not so liberal justices.

Look at the response to Kelo and who was angry. Right wing property rights advocates were one of the major groups that spoke out against Kelo. There were left wing groups as well, including inner city minority groups who are the ones who usually get the shaft from eminent domain use.

You are equating something bad (the Kelo decision) with something you don't like (Republicans). You are ignoring the angry response of people who are right of center. I don't see how you could have missed that.

If you want to slay the monster of eminent domain abuse, vote for a Republican president to nominate Supreme Court justices that agree with Rehnquist, O'Connor, Scalia, and Thomas. No Democrat would ever nominate a justice like any of them.

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  • I'm Steve
  • From Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
  • "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." P.J. O'Rourke
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