06/24/2005: I'm late to the party, as usual....
and as one who generally has been an admirer of Justice John Paul Stevens, I have to confess a great deal of disappointment in him.
Of course, the big legal news yesterday is the Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. New London, which held that the government's right of eminent domain can be exercised on behalf of private developers. Stevens wrote the majority opinion in that one, joined by Kennedy, Souter, Bader Ginsburg and Breyer.
It's interesting that I find myself more in sympathy with the dissenters: O'Connor (that's not surprising; she can be reasonable from time to time), Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas.
Oh God. Whenever I find myself agreeing with Scalia and Thomas I am seriously tempted to rethink my position. But not now...
The majority says that local governments know best what the greater public good is, so if they elect to exercise the eminent domain power in favor of private developers it must therefore be because it redounds to the public good. Hmmmmmm....
Like there aren't local and state government officials who don't equate "the public good" with "money in my pocket" (see: Ford, John, as a case in point).
But it's sure interesting to hear Sandra Day O'Connor sounding like a bleeding heart liberal:
Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.UPDATE: Bryan at Why Now? asks an excellent question:
I have a history question for the Supremes who voted for this: how, exactly is this different from what Andy Jackson did to the Cherokee over your Court's objection? If it was wrong for Jackson to steal land from the Cherokee, how can it be right for a city to take these peoples' homes? Haven't you just negated the value of real estate law in the US, I mean why bother to file a deed if elected officials can decide to take your property?He also points us to an interesting post by "the good Roger Ailes" that reminds us that when Bush was managing general partner of the Texas Rangers, he made use of a similar exercise of eminent domain to steal the land on which The Ballpark in Arlington was built.
But will any of the Bush supporters who might pile on the Supreme Court majority for their Kelo decision remember that? I doubt it.
Len on 06.24.05 @ 06:56 AM CST