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Screw the founding fathers, we're talking Wal-Mart here!

I'm no historian, no legal scholar, no Constitutional expert, nothing like that. But I always thought, from everything I had learned about United States history that one of the cornerstones of our system was respect for private property.

One of the foundations of our legal system is English Common Law, which is where we get the idea that "a man's home is his castle." In one's own home, one is sovereign. None may enter without permission from the owner or a court, and the owner can defend his home with lethal force if necessary.

During the American Revolution, the Colonies united to issue the Declaration of Independence. One of the most stirring phrases from that magnificent work is in the preamble:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

In one of the earlier drafts, the enumerated rights were "Life, Liberty and Property." Jefferson put that forth, as it was a common slogan at the time, but was persuaded that "property" was not a inalienable, God-given right, but a legal right.

After the Revolution, when the Articles of Confederation had proven woefully lacking, the former colonies got together and formed a Constitution. And no sooner had they finished that they immediately went ahead and amended it on the spot. They prepared a list of Rights (NOT granted by the government, but innate to all men and ACKNOWLEDGED by the government) and put them together in a list of the first ten Amendments.

When one looks closely at the Bill of Rights, with an eye towards the right of private property, it becomes abundantly clear that that right is intrinsic in our most precious freedoms.

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Where can someone keep arms but in one's own home? In one's castle? If the founding fathers' intent for this amendment was to be satisfied by a National Guard, there would be no need to "keep" the arms, only to "bear" them -- they could be safely stored in armories until needed.

Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

This is the most underused and least respected Amendment. The idea that the government would force people to put up soldiers in their own homes against their will is so foreign to Americans today as to be inconceivable. But it is a sign of just how repugnant the King's practice of doing just that was to the Colonists that they felt it necessary to enshrine it in the Constitution, and behind only the rights to religion, speech, assembly, free press, redress of grievances, and bearing arms -- and ahead of the others.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I have absolutely nothing to add to this one. Res ipsa loquitur -- "the thing speaks for itself."

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Here, in my humble opinion, is where the Supreme Court went completely daft and treated the Constitution like Charmin. "nor shall private property be taken for public use" is, to me, an astonishingly simple phrase. "Public use" is NOT synonymous with "private use, but public benefit." This is simple theft by conversion, done under color of law.

Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Here we see exactly how important they felt matters of property could be. $20.00 was a hell of a lot more money back then than it is now, but they wanted to make absolutely certain that no government officials (even judges) could make arbitrary decisions regarding people's property. If the amount in question passed a certain amount, the allegedly wronged party could insist that he receive justice not from one man in a robe, but 12 of his peers.

During the Civil War, a lot of Confederates put a great deal of effort into pushing the notion that the war was not about slavery. They spoke loudly and passionately about it being a matter of States' Rights. But the second-loudest argument was that it was a matter of Property -- the Northerners were fixin' to violate the property of the Southerners. In fact, they intended to first take away their slaves, then take their land and give it to the former slaves. And it was a powerful argument, that swayed more than a few people.

In January 1865, General Sherman surveyed the vast, abandoned plantations of Georgia (the owners had fled the approaching war) and looked at the Army's surplus of livestock, and issued Special Field Order #15, promising former slaves "40 acres and a mule." Many former slaves, mistaking that for a general policy to be enforced all across the former Confederacy, rushed south to claim their rewards. It wasn't the promise of freedom that sent them headlong into a former war zone, the lands where they had been enslaved -- they were already free in the north -- but the promise of property.

But, alas, it appears it all was for naught. Five justices of the Supreme Court have taken that history and given it the Royal Flush.

For years, I've listened to the liberals screaming and wailing and howling about how Big Business really runs things around here, about how the Corporate Interests will end up totally running everything and screwing the Little Guy, and the Republicans will be right there helping them. For years, I've found that laughable and signs of the raving paranoia among the Left. But let's look at those five Justices:

John Paul Stevens, appointed in 1975 by Gerald Ford.

Anthony M. Kennedy, appointed in 1988 by Ronald Reagan.

David H. Souter, appointed in 1990 by George H. W. Bush.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, appointed in 1993 by William Jefferson Clinton.

Stephen G. Breyer, appointed in 1994 by William Jefferson Clinton.

Three of the five, appointed by Republicans. It's slight consolation that the other four were put on the Court by Nixon, Reagan, and Bush.

Remember this day, when President Bush is given the opportunity to appoint a justice to the Supreme Court. This is exactly why many people view that right as the most important duty of a president.

What a shame that insiders predict that the most likely Justices to retire soon are not among those named above. And why it is so critical that Justices realize that it is their solemn duty to Interpret the law, not Make it. And that the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Screw the founding fathers, we're talking Wal-Mart here!:

» Slublog linked with A Victory for Wal-Mart

» MuD & PHuD linked with Outrage Builds

» Danny Carlton (aka Jack Lewis) linked with SCOTUS destroys concept of private property

» The Noonz Wire linked with Kelo vs. New London

» The Unalienable Right linked with Lawrence vs. Kelo

» Hyscience linked with Men in Black Draw Blank With Reality

» Brain Shavings linked with More reaction to Kelo

» Mike's Noise linked with The Kelo decision

» The Starkcast linked with The Starkcast #007

Comments (28)

Private Property is Theft. ... (Below threshold)
Average Leftist Mentality:

Private Property is Theft. The market can't plan progress, only central authority can. We hate Big Business, unless it is in league with Central Authority. You can't make an omlette without breaking some eggs. Land belongs to everyone, therefor it belongs to the State. The Invasion of Iraq was wrong, the Invasion of your house is not.

Everybody is wrong for sayi... (Below threshold)

Everybody is wrong for saying the left should be unhappy with this decision because of the big business angle. The left should be ecstatic about it because it isn't about big buisness, it is about big goverment. The government know gets to decide what the best use of any property is. Not market conditions, not the small business owner just starting out -- the government.

This is just what the left wants, has wanted, and continues to move toward. "Experts" who know better to run your life, decide where you live, work, and who needs what resources. Sure, Wal Mart makes out good, but it is the government who now gets to decide how the resources should be allocated. Very socialist if you ask me.

Can't believe I'm saying th... (Below threshold)

Can't believe I'm saying this but I am in total agreement with you, Jay Tea. Almost. Except for the fact that there is no liberal wing of the Supreme court, it's 7-2 Republican.

But, on the whole, I am absolutely disgusted at this decision. The Corporate Dream is alive and well, the American Dream is gone.

No liberal wing of the Supr... (Below threshold)

No liberal wing of the Supreme Court ?!?! Usually I reserve instances of spitting my liquid refreshments all over my monitor for the times that Jay T, Paul, Kevin, or one of the commenters says something truly spectaculary funny. However, now gordon has managed to make me do so by making a profoundly stupid statement.

Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Bryer, Ginsburg - the liberal wing of the SCOTUS. I know, I know, I know, so shut up already, some were appointed by Republicans. However, being appointed by a Republican does not preclude one from being a moonbat while on the bench.

My home is situated fairly closer to a street. I am growing increasingly concerned that there may be some better use of my property than a place for me and my daughter to live. I might as well just give my title over to the county now, and save the rest of the taxpayers the legal expenses of me fighting them later on. What a sad day.

Remember, too, that the dis... (Below threshold)

Remember, too, that the dissenters are primarily those whom there was talk of impeaching. O'Connor, Scalia, Rehnquist?

I didn't hear a peep about impeaching Stevens. Good party man, that Stevens.

Oh, and -"Land bel... (Below threshold)

Oh, and -

"Land belongs to everyone, therefor it belongs to the State."

That's not Leftist, that's Stalinist. I'm not sure who the wise guy is, but he seems to be getting left and right confused. Ought to watch it before up and down blow out too.

My house is on Main Street ... (Below threshold)

My house is on Main Street JD, so I could be househunting next month!!
On the other point, it's not my fault you wingnuts have moved so far to the right that your appointees are looking like Che Guevara.

Would it surprise anyone fa... (Below threshold)

Would it surprise anyone familiar with my other posts to this forum that I think this was a supremely bad decision too? Granted, if the outcome had gone the other way, I would have expected that majority to write an even worse decision. A less bipolar Supreme Court might have handled this case with more delicacy, and we might have gotten the least possibly bad decision out of a range of bad possible decisions.

That said, it's nice to see how long you right-wing fruitbats could go, after getting your panties in a bunch about Senator Durbin's remarks, before you too would feel the need to dip into the well of making analogies to Stalin. (c.f. Wendigo above, writes: That's not Leftist, that's Stalinist.).

I never believed you guys were seriously offended by comparisons between the U.S. government and the regimes of genocidal dictators. So, tell me— why should I take your outrage about this latest Supreme Court decision any more seriously than all the other fake "outrage opportunities" you guys have played in recent months and years?

Gee, and for so long I have... (Below threshold)

Gee, and for so long I have been under the impression that the Constitution was very clearly worded and formed a contract between the government and the governed. I certainly think I understand what the framers meant and captured in the Bill of Rights. Property seizure by the Crown was not an uncommon event and they had a good reason for putting in this clause. But, it seems that the founders never got that living document part down. The good news is that this ruling will almost certainly improve world opinion of the US, especially in Europe.

Actually, gordo, I think th... (Below threshold)

Actually, gordo, I think that you came close to pointing out where they lie on the political spectrum, just got it reversed. Reagan and Bush succumbed to attempting to appease the Democrats and offered up what were essentially considered to be "moderates" for the positions, who were in reality, liberal Rebublicans. Upon taking the bench, those justices simply forgot about the Republican part and went right on ahead with the liberal part. So, they might not be liberal enough for you, but that certainly does not make them Republicans or conservatives.

The fact that the basis use... (Below threshold)

The fact that the basis used was tax revenue is scary.

Just wait...

"Say, that { Church | Synogogue | Mosque } on the corner over there doesn't generate any tax revenue, but my roller-derby would. Where's my bulldozer??"

Outrageous? Sure, but is it any more so than today's ruling?

why dont you allow us to co... (Below threshold)

why dont you allow us to comment here in wizbang about karl rove's great comments today...finally the truth is spoken...those liberals were behind 9/11...they caused the whole thing and laughed as those towers fell killing 3000 wall street bankers, conservatives all...they appluaded as they jumped from the towers and splattered on the streets of new york...they also dont support our troops and want them killed... all 150,000 of them in Iraq, who cares about wmd's and osama at least we got saddam...i say go karl...you are a true american...lets go get aruba next they are all black down there...maybe some lynching is in order

Maybe the justices looked a... (Below threshold)

Maybe the justices looked again to examples of 'international standards' that would support or explain the majority opinion, and found...Zimbabwe! After all, Mugabe is destroying the homes of (tens of) thousands for the benefit of everyone, right?

Neil, I think that straw ma... (Below threshold)

Neil, I think that straw man just surrendered.

My mistake, that was France surrendering to Ronald McDonald.

s9What about the p... (Below threshold)


What about the phrase "all the land belongs to the State" is not Stalinist?

Developers Use Eminent Doma... (Below threshold)

Developers Use Eminent Domain to Acquire White House


What about the phrase "a... (Below threshold)

What about the phrase "all the land belongs to the State" is not Stalinist?

Whatever it is, it sure as heck isn't American. The Constitution clearly assumes the reality of private property ownership. So no, all land does not belong to the state.

If there is a silver lining... (Below threshold)

If there is a silver lining to this, and I believe there is one, it is that this is an issue that can easily be framed where John Q. Public can easily understand the importance of appointing judges that actually read the Constitution. Most people just get the idea, at a gut level, that government should not just be able to take your home or land, and give it to somebody that they deem to be more worthy of its use.

Well, it's official<p... (Below threshold)

Well, it's official

the NY Times loves the Kelo decision.

Earlier today some of the lefty blogs (kos, atrios, marshall, drum) were curiously silent on this issue ... look to them to pick up the cue from the NYTimes of how to play this

let's hope that Bush has le... (Below threshold)

let's hope that Bush has learned from his father... how to make a great pick - Thomas. He better not follow his mistake of listening to Kennedy and picking Souter.

I think people are missing ... (Below threshold)

I think people are missing something very important here. Something that caught my eye and frankly shocked me that a Liberal Justice would say it.

In the decision, at least it has been reported, i've not read the whole thing yet. The majority opinion was local government can decide better than the Feds. So we finally have something given back to the states. So now lets organize and make eminent domain very restrictive. SCOTUS has already ruled they wont interfere!

Would it surprise anyone... (Below threshold)

Would it surprise anyone familiar with my other posts to this forum that I think this was a supremely bad decision too?

s9, will it surprise you if I say "no"?


When we start questioning w... (Below threshold)

When we start questioning why judges are in the left or right wing and who appointed them, Republican or Democrat and we still cannot make sense of the appointments. Let us remember that it use to be very UN-popular to have a “LITMUS TEST” when appointing judges. My how times have changed.

Jay,It is quite a ... (Below threshold)


It is quite a shame indeed.

Souter was a direct response to Borking. A compromise guy. He's been predictably lame.

If it's Rehnquist who retires, Bush MUST appoint someone at least as conservative as the Chief Justice, just to keep the ideological balance of power static.

Why, oh why, can't one of those justices leave? Especially Ginsburg. She is on the wrong side of so many issues, or at least moreso than the others...


And you know, even IF Bush nominated a moderate, Democrats would still gnash their teeth. But because Bush MUST appoint a conservative, they will have a point in the media. "Bush appoints right-winger to Supreme Court."

Ugh. I am not looking forward to this fight.

In time, there will be bloo... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

In time, there will be bloodshed resulting from this outrageous decision.

I have to admit, I think that when I see the news reports of the aforementioned violence, that I won't blame the homeowner.

OK, the majority went with ... (Below threshold)
John Anderson:

OK, the majority went with prior art, aka [BAD] precedent. But I still can't quite seem to understanf the equation -

public use = private offices

Nor can I understand how a Federal law overrules local law whle at the same time local law overrules the Federal Constitution as determined by the same judges in a period of what, a week?

6 of the 9 have previously ... (Below threshold)

6 of the 9 have previously cited international opinion, cases in other countries and common law when writing opinions. That means that 6 of the 9 don't even bother to form opinions based on the document they are sworn to uphold.

IMO not doing your sworn duty is impeachable. If you are so brazen that not only do you ignore your oath but you write about it in your opinions you need to be gone.

The Kelo Decision makes it ... (Below threshold)

The Kelo Decision makes it official, the Republic is dead, nor is there a Constitution. How can there be political rights if there are no property rights? Disagree with or oppose a government official and they can now find a better use for your property. Next it will be your freedom or your life.

Ask yourselves, which amendment of the Bill of Rights is still valid? None, save the Third regarding quartering troops in private residences. Nor is the Right of Habeas Corpus valid any longer, thanks to the misnamed and hastily passed Patriot and Homeland Security Acts.

As Benjamin Franklin said, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Who was it who said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance? We have fallen asleep while on watch and we have reaped what we so richly deserve.

Seig Hiel, Comrade!






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