The Carnival of the Vanities #114 is up
Open Media 100

Eminent domain abuse

Yahoo! News reports:

WASHINGTON - 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.

Link: Hit and Run.

You do wonder: Now that the "liberal" justices on the court have sided with the drug warriors against cancer patients, and with a plan to rob people of their homes for the benefit of wealthy developers, will some court-watchers on the left begin to question the wisdom of having let economic freedom become the red-headed stepchild of modern jurisprudence?

This is a good point and it goes both ways. Powers like Eminent domain and control over Inter-state commerce are double edged swords. The Left should be wary of giving the government and court powers in the name of social welfare and economic regulations as they can used for restricting personal freedom and civil liberties. The Right should also be wary of giving the government power with intention of controlling personal freedom and nationalistic sentiments (such as for preventing flag buring, mandator prayers and so on) as those same powers can be used for restricting and regulating the commerce and reducing the economic freedom.

As there are more or less equal number of left leaning and right leaning people there is a very little chance of libertarians getting political power through elections. Libertarians should thus focus on properly highlighting the fear of government and court power getting hijacked and unintended consequences resulting from that.

Fact that both Republicans and Democrats are currently fighting strongly over the confirmation of judicial nominees gives an interesting possibility. Taking advantage of such close fights libertarian judges should present themselves as a compromise candidates as they are not likely to abuse the power to harm personal freedom and economic freedom. If that works, we might have a liberal order (in the original European sense) without electing a single libertarian congress member.

Update:
I noticed that some of the liberal bloggers (such as dailyKos) are supporting the decision:

The city of New London had used its eminent domain power to condemn a large privately-owned piece of land (emphasis mine), giving it to a private development corporation for the purposes of economic development.
...
It would have sacrificed needed community power at the hands of the sort of property-rights extremism frequently displayed by right-wing libertarian types.

(This first comment at the above post neatly sums it up):

Visit your store where your neighbor used to be.

This is truly amazing! Notice the special mention that the property in question is "a large privately-owned piece of land". What if the case was about a small piece of land owned by a poor person?  Remember, this same people will even oppose WalMart opening up their big box store in any community without the local goverment support because it will destroy mom-and-pop stores and make the neighborhood ugly. Now all that WalMart needs to do is to have some local politicians who will argue "public use" and not only will they be allowed to build a store but they might even get the land they want without struggling for it! Amazing, how if you appeal to the people's  sense of community, things change so much!

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Comments

Vedapushpa


What is the legal-redressal for an erstwhile individual's public donation property and cause which the government partner is trying to 'demolish' and condemn??

vedapushpa@gmail.com
India

Daryl Sawyer

The bulldozing of ghettos in the name of economic progress ie *exactly* the sort of thing this is intended for. I'm pretty sure that has already happened, though that case didn't reach the Supreme Court.

Trevor

This is just another incremental step towards a new slave society. You already only rented your property. Failure to pay the yearly taxes would have made that clear to any property owner who doubted such.

Rossputin

Now any big developer can just go lobby his town council to take people's houses...unless the people are rich.

This is simply Robin Hood in reverse...like much government policy lately.

Property rights are the very foundation of our economy and society. Justice Kennedy's concurrence with the socialists/liberals of the Court was truly shameful. This is one of the most important and worst Supreme Court decisions of my lifetime.

gravid

Unbelievable,.... am I dreaming?

It's only a matter of time before Bliar thinks this is a great idea too.

I am flabbergasted at this. Everyone might as well rent as opposed to buy as what is the point in ownership if the law says it doesn't really exist?

Despicable bastids.

Minh-Duc

This is one step toward tyranny. Property right is a bedrock of a capitalistic society; without it, we are on shifty sand of uncertainty.

Parker

Me and my dad were talking about this tonight and I was thinking, could the government bulldoze ghettos and make way for new housing developments in the name of economic progress??

The more I think about this decision the scarier it is.

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