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All Your Property Are Belong To US

The Supreme Court did a number on the Fifth Amendment today. This decision is sure to get people fired up.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in communities where economic growth often is at war with individual property rights.

The 5-4 ruling - assailed by dissenting Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as handing "disproportionate influence and power" to the well-heeled in America - was a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They had argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.

As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.
Writing for the court, Justice John Paul Stevens said local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community. States are within their rights to pass additional laws restricting condemnations if residents are overly burdened, he said.

"The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including - but by no means limited to - new jobs and increased tax revenue," Stevens wrote in an opinion joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

Scott Bullock, the attorney for the Institute for Justice who represented the families, said: "A narrow majority of the court simply got the law wrong today and our Constitution and country will suffer as a result."

Unfortunately none of those justices are among those rumored to be retiring...

Update: Bryan, at Arguing with signposts, has a massive reaction roundup.


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» Tech Central Station linked with Eminent Domain: A Pr0n Star's Take.

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Comments (34)

just got a post up on this ... (Below threshold)

just got a post up on this myself. How ironic: the "liberal" justices side with the wealthy developers against the working-class homeowners, all in the name of the collective good outweighing the property rights of the individual...oh, yeah, and the chance to expand government power, they gotta like that, too! Any body remember the scene in Dr. Zhivago where they come and take all the furniture for redistribution for the common good?

Two points:1. Thi... (Below threshold)

Two points:

1. This isn't really a Fifth Amendment case, it's a Ninth Amendment case. This is seizure of private property for the private use of others. The bustards can't even get that right.

2. Check out the Five Boobs In Black [TM] who did this to us: John Paul Stevens, Anthony Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. There is no way George Bush would ever nominate anyone like them to the Supreme Court. The upcoming nomination fights are VITAL for restoring our freedoms. The loony left just cannot be allowed to win.

Now, all we gotta do is rez... (Below threshold)
cirby:

Now, all we gotta do is rezone all of that partially-used waterfront property on Martha's Vineyard for a new refinery...

(This has to be the *worst* SC decision in a very long time...)

“We're going to take thi... (Below threshold)
J.M.:

“We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”- Hillary Clinton addressing a San Francisco Democratic Fund Raiser on June 28th, 2004.

Source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2004/06/28/politics2039EDT0165.DTL&type=printable

I'll give you a real-world ... (Below threshold)
Sherard:

I'll give you a real-world example on this.

In Syracuse a local developer is trying to build a multi-million dollar Green Power Technology R&D complex. The local government has signed on and the designated destination covers the land currently occupied by 29 businesses that employ 400 people.

The R&D park is slated to employ around 10,000 in an area that is STARVING for any kind of development. They are going to use eminent domain to buy those 29 properties and now that the SCOTUS has ruled, I'm sure it will happen in short order.

Yes there are probably better ways to do it, and the developer could offer more than market value or help with relocation costs, but the fact is there are some owners that simply WILL NOT sell, or if they would, they would essentially extort vastly more than market value.

Sorry, 10,000 jobs trumps 400. It isn't even close. If those people wanted to work with the developer then fine, but they don't. You stand in the way of progress, you get bulldozed. Sorry.

[booing]BOOOOO!!!!... (Below threshold)

[booing]

BOOOOO!!!!!! Hissssss. Booooooooo...

[/booing]

Oh and eminent domain pays ... (Below threshold)
Sherard:

Oh and eminent domain pays fair market value. They aren't "taking" anything, they are buying it.

And guess who decides what ... (Below threshold)

And guess who decides what that "fair market value" is, and how there's been a history of local governments screwing their constituants on behalf of Wally World or The Donald. The usual trick is for the city to condemn the property first, knocking a digit or two off the price.

Boy, Sherard, you don't und... (Below threshold)

Boy, Sherard, you don't understand the concept of market value, do you?

If I have a bananna and you want it, and I say it's worth $200, you'll tell me to go take a hike and purchase it from someone else for $.05. Just because I declare my fruit is worth X and you don't like it doesn't mean you are entitled to have the government force me to sell it to you.

If I don't want to sell my property for less than a bazillion dollars, then tough. Go find another chunk of land someplace else. Unless you're trying to tell me that the only spot on the planet earth where the R&D business can set up shop is right there.

And putting a gun to someone's head while taking their watch is theft, even if you give them $20 for it.

Anyone remember the movie:<... (Below threshold)
jim:

Anyone remember the movie:

"Batteries Not Included" ?

Tried to trackback but you ... (Below threshold)
Jay:

Tried to trackback but you aren't accepting them from me. Nor are Arguing with Signposts or PoliBlog for some reason. Consider this sort of a trackback.

I bought Sherard's car. I b... (Below threshold)
Educated Liberal:

I bought Sherard's car. I broke the window, hotwired it and left $50 in his mail box (it was a 2002 Ford Focus, this is its market value). What, you winguts fascists have a problem with my purchase?

"Sorry, 10,000 jobs trumps ... (Below threshold)
T:

"Sorry, 10,000 jobs trumps 400"

Speaking of Pol Pot and Stalin...you have to break some eggs (or heads) for progress...

Sherard, what part of "prop... (Below threshold)

Sherard, what part of "property rights" don't you understand?

Educated Liberal: Here's h... (Below threshold)

Educated Liberal: Here's how to do it legally.

Bribe a city councilman or two to pass an ordinance taking his home, so you can put up an apartment building. Have the police, with guns on hips, tell him he must leave and accept the price the city sets. You get it from the city at a steep discount. The city gets more tax revenue, you collect fat rent checks. Who can argue with that? Sherard? Hah! Sherard is no longer standing "in the way of progress!"

What? This has been the family home for generations? How selfish you are to say so. Suck it up, sucker -- what, you thought we had freedom? This is the new and improved America, where the Ninth Amendment doesn't exist!

Every liberals worst nightm... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Every liberals worst nightmare-the Supreme Court just gave the town permission to take their property to build a super walmart.

And they can't even blame the horrid conservatives or the GOP.

It's not like we owned priv... (Below threshold)

It's not like we owned private property anyway. We just rent it from the government. If we don't pay our "property taxes" the government comes in and takes our land away. Rent by any other word is still rent.

Is there anyone who even re... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Is there anyone who even respects this decision, other than local governments?

All governments have two decisions to make and enforce: whether to reduce expenditures or increase taxes because they don't reduce expenditures.

Reducing expenditures means reducing services (which includes salaries, benefits and other flourishes to "self regulating" persons in governments) and it seems that we have so many employees in our governments who would rather increase taxes than do without their various perk, and, not say "no" as needed to requests for more taxpayer money.

This ruling is an insult to the Constitution. It's a vile and disgusting decision and those responsible are, too.

I am going to suggest that ... (Below threshold)
-S-:

I am going to suggest that everyone here give it a try and call any one of several supposed taxpayer funded organizations that exist, again, supposedly, to aid/assist/represent the taxpayer/individual citizens under various causes of concern.

You'll get a plethora of people answering the phone eager to aid and support "immigration" issues but otherwise who will be insulting to anyone and everyone who 'bothers' them.

Meaning, there's little recourse for the average citizen to seek helps and answers from our governments without millions/billions of dollars of lobbying. It's a crying shame because the Constitution is written to address individual concerns, rights and conditions.

And, lest anyone doubt that... (Below threshold)
-S-:

And, lest anyone doubt that liberalism is fascism in principle, just look at this FASCIST ruling by these individuals based upon a FASCIST 'ideal': that the individual is without rights and protections when confronted by (property and material) intentions that service the collective.

I'm embarrassed for these Supremes who appear to be ruling based upon defiled character, rather than minding what our Constitution provides.

Response to post: Stevens i... (Below threshold)
Eli:

Response to post: Stevens is rumored to be not too far from retirement being his only realistic option.

Response to comments: The court didn't "give" anyone power with this, they just didn't take it away. Cities had been functioning under the assumption that this stuff was ok for years. That doesn't mean it's good policy, but we should be accurate. This wasn't an expansion, it was a confirmation.

No, this isn't a ninth amendment case. Is anything a ninth amendment case?

And how many of you here wh... (Below threshold)

And how many of you here who are so pissed off have written their congresscritter / senator? Spend some of that anger-energy doing something useful instead of just bloviating on blogs.

If enough representatives catch enough slack from their constituents, something might be done to protect us. But if we stay silent, it will be our fault when the bulldozer wrecks our houses for the next Denny's.

I thought this was supposed... (Below threshold)
Eli:

I thought this was supposed to be a conservative blog! Don't write your federal congressman, write your state congressman.

We are now all Surfs. Welco... (Below threshold)
gargy:

We are now all Surfs. Welcome to the middle ages america.

I'm curious. When the stor... (Below threshold)
Mark:

I'm curious. When the store/office/whatever built on top of homes taken from people is burned or something, will we hear from the city/developer how destruction of private property is a bad thing?

Write your Congressman? Wow... (Below threshold)

Write your Congressman? Wow, what world do you live in?

Your Congressman is too busy attending campaign fundraisers put on for him by the local developers to read your stupid letter, moron.

And unless you attach a $100,000 check, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for him to "act on your concerns."

The bribe floodgates have been opened. No Congressman is about to shut them.

No wonder you're as sharp as a marble!

Is there anyone here who do... (Below threshold)
bullwinkle:

Is there anyone here who doesn't understand that after you finish paying for a piece of real estate you are only a tenant and the government is your landlord? Stop paying your rent (property taxes) and see how long it takes to evict you. This is a good case to demonstrate that, the landlord in this case can collect more rent on the newer, more valuable property so they are eager to evict the current tenants.

I can think of five new pla... (Below threshold)

I can think of five new places to build a Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, In-n-Out, and StarBucks. Sorry Judges, it is for the good of the people.

Reminds me of the old west movies, the railroad is coming...

Who wins here? Reale... (Below threshold)
kjl:

Who wins here?
Realestate developers, speculators and of course the local tax base.
You wanna show them what you think?
Everyone put your place up for sale. Don't sell (unless someone offers you silly money and you really want to sell) just flood the market.
Realestate tanks, Tax base shrinks, governments backs up.

OMFGSorry to put com... (Below threshold)
gordon:

OMFG
Sorry to put comment on this thread, but since "free speech" Paul won't allow me to post on his piece, just got home and saw Rove's statement.
He just about managed to piss off everybody except the wingnuts. The rest of the world will be seething.
Prepare for more leaks Rove baby , you are goin' down.

A thought on an what I'd li... (Below threshold)
TheEnigma:

A thought on an what I'd like to see as an ironic twist to this ruling.

Local governments, where those 5 "justices" live, condemn and take over the property where those "justices" live to build office buildings, apartments or condos. I wonder if then, they'd want to "re-visit" their opinions?

While I find what New Londo... (Below threshold)

While I find what New London did reprehensible, I applaud the SCOTUS's decision in Kelo v. New London. Its a victory for States rights, because like it or not the 5th Amendment and 150 years of SCOTUS case law has (at the very least) tacitly allowed for the Government to seize our property ("...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.")

What the SCOTUS decided in Kelo was that the state has the right to determine what constitutes "public use" and "just compensation" is. Connecticut has a statute that authorizes the use of eminent domain to promote economic development. That was a decision made by the State, and given our status as a Constitutional Republic, the people of that state give (either direct or implied) permission for that law to be passed, and used.

As long as the 5th Amendment is going to exist, I'd rather have my the government as close to me as possible be the one's determining what those two terms mean. This means, that if a state, such as Utah doesn't want what happened in New London to be legal, they can pass a law outlawing it. This means that if Arizona, or New Mexico want to pass laws that make it so restrictive and expensive for the States to seize the property, then they can do so. This means that if California wants to give you the right to have "just compensation" set by a Jury, then they can (and in each of the examples given, do).

If you want to get rid of the 5th Amendment, I'm on board with that, I don't believe that the government (Fed or State) should have the right to force me to sell property at any price for any reason, but that is a different discussion and exists outside Kelo.

Uh, bullwinkle... taxes are... (Below threshold)

Uh, bullwinkle... taxes are legal and necessary to raise revenue for services.. property taxes are levied for property protection, ie police and firefighting (used to be for schools, too, another topic)

Now I'll surely agree with you that raising taxes on current market value of a house that you bought 25 years ago is ludicrous and makes a mockery of tying taxes to services.

That's why CA passed Prop 13.

Paying property tax makes you no more a "renter" than paying sales taxes makes you a serf.

if you own a piece of prope... (Below threshold)

if you own a piece of property, you damn well better own some guns.




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