Thursday, June 23, 2005

Must... Control... Fists... of Death

The Supreme Court has lost its mind! (Here's the full opinion in pdf format). Does the Supreme Court really think that a local government, even one with the best of intentions, should have the right to take property from one person or group and give it to another? Here's a line from the majority opinion:

"Those who govern the City were not confronted with the need to remove blight in the Fort Trumbull area, but their determination that the area was sufficiently distressed to justify a program of economic rejuvenation is entitled to our deference."

Why?

"The City has carefully formulated an economic development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including—but by no means limited to—new jobs and increased tax revenue."

Oookay, so if a farm isn't providing enough jobs and tax revenue, can the government take it away and let someone build a mall, an office park, and a high-end neighborhood with a park in its place? That's an "integrated development plan" (page 18) rather than a one-to-one exchange, but that doesn't mean it should be allowed.

Ugh.

Update: Jody's asking what you think the Worst Supreme Court Ever is. Taney was pretty bad, though the current court is doing it's darndest to compete. And now D.C. is jumping for joy over the decision. I bet the Richmond City Council could have some fun with this, too.

Update 2: Jody's arguments against the ruling. Because he had more time and patience to go through it than I did.

3 Comments:

Blogger Kitsune said...

Yeah. I saw this too.

I have been up all night, so let me try and make a coherent argument.

I am seriously sick of that "public welfare / just compensation" clause in the 5th Amendment. "Just" is a purely speculative term and it has inherited a very wide range of meanings. It's a giant gaping hole in the Constitution* that the Supreme Court likes to seize upon when they like anything that could possibly be considered social.

I've been ranting about this elsewhere too.

I understand that a city my have wonderful plans for the public good, but the fact is that people expect that when they own property that they, well, own it! It's not a lease from the government. It is not at will thing. Any other time something is forcefully taken from you, it's called theft. How is it any different when it is a government agency? Apparently, very different, because they have the (Judge's opinion of) the Fifth Amendment: Authority to take anything that they want in the name of society.

Insult to injury that in this case the government is selling the land out from under them to developers.

In this case, I think the Founders erred. I don't really like the duct-tape an Amendment to the Constitution every time we don't like something attitude, but in this case, I truly believe the Constitution should be amended to say something to the effect of "private property shall not be taken for public use, baring sales by the owner". But, for some reason, I doubt politicians have any desire at all to reduce their position of power...

* "Yeah officer, I did steal that painting from the museum, but I put it up in a public park. And I left $20 where the painting was. I mean, really, it's just old paper. That was more than just compensation."**

6/24/2005 5:25 AM  
Blogger SpakKadi said...

This case is less about the just compensation part and more about the public use part of that clause. Roads are for public use. Office parks are not. Though, apparently, the Supreme Court thinks they are. Just compensation is a whole 'nother can of worms. It's suppose to prevent the government from just taking your property and leaving you with nothing. Now, whether or not they give you what your property is actually worth...

6/24/2005 5:38 PM  
Blogger Kitsune said...

Your right. I side-tracked myself. This thing is nasty on many levels.

6/28/2005 6:05 AM  

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