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This is very disturbing coming from the Supreme Court. I must say that on this I side with the conservatives on the bench who dissented. Now large development firms will have almost unlimited access to any piece of property they deem fit for "development" and kick the proprietors off even if the families have lived there for generations!! That is simply not fair! And all of these for the "public" good. Isn't this the same argument used by the Chinese during the Revolution to uproot millions, for the "public" good? Granted, USA will never go that far but still it is a disquieting development to say the least. Infact, Sandra Connor has it exactly right when she says, "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms." This I didn't expect from Souter or Breyer. Government should not have this much power over people's right to their properties.

Originally posted to Shuvo Dutta on Thu Jun 23, 2005 at 08:20 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  was just about to diary this (none)
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/23/politics/23wire-scotus.html?hp&ex=1119585600&en=5036788eb4 cc9d17&ei=5094&partner=homepage

    This is OUTRAGEOUS!!!!!!!!

    Justices Back Government Power to Take Property for Development

    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Published: June 23, 2005

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- A divided Supreme Court ruled 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 conflicts with individual property rights.

    Thursday's 5-4 ruling represented a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They 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.

    Local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community, justices said.

  •  The fourth diary on this (none)
    You might want to check the several diaries below on this decision.

    And to state it again, the lineup of liberals vs conservatives on this decision should tell you something about what it's really about.  The right-wing property rights advocates wanted this to turn out the other way, so that they could more easily block public regulation of land use for environmental and other purposes - that's what's really at stake here.

    The issue now lies in local government - and if you want your local government to make the right decisions about land use, you have to get involved.  Yes, O'Connor makes all the right anti-corporate noises in her dissent, but get real - when has she actually ever sided against those corporate interests when it counts?  Easy for her to say this now - how about when it counted, in Bush v Gore, for example?  Don't let her sudden "conversion" fool you - this was the right decision from a Constitutional perspective.

    To prevent bad results locally, you have to act locally.

    •  wrong (none)
      wrong, what really is at stake here is private fucking ownership.  As of today it no longer exist. Today We all just became fucking squatters until the rich well connected want our land.  What is more america than owning a peice of land?  well as of today, it no longer exist.
    •  disagree (none)
      and we have a long list of federal laws and regulations, not the least of which include civil rights and workers' rights, that were enacted precisely because states and local governments were free to discriminate against, jail, or murder citizens who attempted to "act locally."

      "While there is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of it. While there is a soul in prison, I am not free." - Eugene Debs

      by matthewc on Thu Jun 23, 2005 at 08:37:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You may be right (none)
      On some cases. But right to own properties lies at the very heart of US Constitution. Liberty means nothing if everything my father, grandfather and I have worked for can be destroyed tomorrow to make space for the latest Starbucks in my town. As I said, it simply not fair.
    •  Not so sure (none)
      I'm not sure how much a different result from the Court would have affected the application of, for example, the Endangered Species Act, or the Civil Rights Act.  These are federal laws which the judiciary has generally been reluctant to second-guess (see the recent Medical Marijuana verdict), as long as there is a compelling reason.  This idea of takings is definitely a conservative bugaboo.  

      This was something different I believe.  Here the question seemed to be whther urban renewal by an unelected development agency could take folk's real estate for private development.  This seemed like something that conservatives and liberals (especially in the original sense of the word) should have agreed on.  

      No one likes armed missionaries. -- Robespierre.

      by Gator Keyfitz on Thu Jun 23, 2005 at 08:59:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Public Use (none)
      The right-wing property rights advocates wanted this to turn out the other way, so that they could more easily block public regulation of land use for environmental and other purposes - that's what's really at stake here.

      Absolutely not. Environmental regulation and taking has always had a clear rationale, and is still completely permissable, as a public good; this decision did nothing whatsoever to weaken that. What this decision did was, for the first time, formally extend the notion of "public good" to include private use.

      The government has always had the ability to take your land for environmental reasons, as that is a clear public good. Similarly, the government has always had the ability to take your land for government use, or for public use; again, public spaces are considered a public good.

      This decision is new in that now the government can take your land and give it to another private entity, if it feels that someone else would make "better" use of it than you can. "Better" being defined here as "raising more tax revenue" (that's the incredibly thin "public good" hook used here), or, more likely, "making bigger campaign contributions to the politicians making the decision."

  •  Why is seizing property (none)
    something that the court libs rallied behind?  Plus the pot decision!  Did Dr. Frist do some brain-swapping over there?
  •  repeat diary (none)
    see downlist

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/6/23/10559/5709

    30+ comments

    -end diary cop.

    Reigning Welterweight Female Piefighter since 1998

    by ablington on Thu Jun 23, 2005 at 08:25:07 AM PDT

  •  Total BS (4.00)

    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,"
    Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority.

    New Jobs? What are they gonna build on the land?


    bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes...

    Great more jobs paying $5.15 an hour.

    Hey honey, we've lost our house - but The Gap needs people to work in the stock room.

  •  Yep (none)
    This is unbeleivable.  America has truly died today. I am dead serious this to me will be looked back at as a watershed moment.  At this point devolpers and their cronies in public office can look at your land, like what they see, and basically kick you off with some bullshit " fair " offer.   Say goodbye to waterfront property you have had in your family for generations.  Say goodbye to any great location.  Today you are basically just squatters until some rich fuck wants to take it from you.

     Man if the soldiers really new what they died for, they would of never went.  This is TRULY pathetic. Ownership, is now only for the rich and well connected.

  •  Agree (none)
    we have lost our property rights with this decision.  never thought I'd find myself on the same side as Thomas and Scalia, but this decision is wrong!

    in my community a developer sits on the zoning board; now if the town wants my land for another f-ing shopping center its gone.  

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Thu Jun 23, 2005 at 08:29:50 AM PDT

  •  Wierd breakdown of the Justices (none)
    Ruling Summary:
    "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."

    5-4 Ruling against private citizens:
    Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsberg and Breyer supportthe government being able to sieze personal property for private corporate interests while O'Connor, Rhenquist, Scalia and Thomas vote against it !!??!!!

    from the article:
    "The New London neighborhood that will be swept away includes Victorian-era houses and small businesses that in some instances have been owned by several generations of families. Among the New London residents in the case is a couple in their 80s who have lived in the same home for more than 50 years."

    Next up:
    "cases dealing with the constitutionality of government Ten Commandments displays and the liability of Internet file-sharing services for clients' illegal swapping of copyrighted songs and movies"

    •  The usual good guys are the bad guys & vice v. (none)
      O'Connor is absolutely right: this will enable local governments to condemn property just to help their buddies make money.

      This is the worst Supreme Court decision since Bush v. Gore.

      And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased, And the epitaph drear: "A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East." --K

      by RT on Thu Jun 23, 2005 at 08:36:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  my take (none)
    I commented on this in the open thread just now:

    haven't read the opinion and am not familiar with the instant facts, but my concern would be tight-wingers who don't believe in the concept of "public good" asserting as paramount and inviolable anything that could be characterized, however tenuously, as a "property right."

    "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald

    by Passing Shot on Thu Jun 23, 2005 at 08:33:42 AM PDT

  •  that should be (none)
    "right-wingers" (but in a weird way, "tight" seems also to fit).

    "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald

    by Passing Shot on Thu Jun 23, 2005 at 08:34:22 AM PDT

  •  Corporations (none)
    are drooling over this ruling.

    "While there is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of it. While there is a soul in prison, I am not free." - Eugene Debs

    by matthewc on Thu Jun 23, 2005 at 08:38:23 AM PDT

  •  who will get blamed?. (none)
    Did one of the conservatives vote with the majority on this?

    This decision will be an albatross cum millstone for the Democratic Party.

  •  I agree (none)
    This will just be fodder for wingnuts to claim that the "liberals" on the Court are out of touch with the will of the people and are creating law. In my opinion this decision is a travesty and not even remotely rooted in jurisprudence. It's as if Pfizer et al are working the marrionette strings of the Justices.
  •  FWIW (none)
    in the law, the term "personal property" means stuff other than real estate.  This case concerned real estate, and hence while the court authorized "private property" seizures, and "real property" seizures, it did not authorize "personal property" seizures, although there is nothing in the analysis that would necessarily distinguish them.  

    In fact, eminent domain is used almost always for real property, because it is usually possible and easier to buy personal property on the open market.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

    by ohwilleke on Thu Jun 23, 2005 at 08:45:45 AM PDT

  •  Constructionist (4.00)
    Maybe this isn't the right time to bring it up, but these are the types of decisions that made me a fan of Constructionist judges.  The liberal v. conservative dimension doesn't really apply to the SCOTUS (or shouldn't) since it isn't making law.

    Constructionists are generally for not expanding the Constitution to cover new things and are against reading new ideas into it.  I think the right to private property is pretty clear in the actual text.  And that is why it doesn't surprise me to see Scalia and Thomas on the side of Constructionism.  It also doesn't surprise me to see Ginsberg and Stevens defending an expanded version of the Constitution that allows this type of seizure.

    In case it matters, let me note that I am a Republican.

    •  Constructionism? Hardly... (none)
      Constructionists are generally for not expanding the Constitution to cover new things and are against reading new ideas into it.  I think the right to private property is pretty clear in the actual text. And that is why it doesn't surprise me to see Scalia and Thomas on the side of Constructionism.  It also doesn't surprise me to see Ginsberg and Stevens defending an expanded version of the Constitution that allows this type of seizure.

      So is the power of government to condemn property for public purpose with just compensation. And the Constitution doesn't explicitly (except against certain forms of discrimination, and due process restrictions) limit what "public purpose" is except for the Federal government.

      A strict Constructionist, generally, views the states as having unlimited police powers except to the extent explicitly limited by the Constitution, since the Constitution purports only to lay out the powers of Federal government, and the states are "sovereign" except to the extent limited by the Federal Constitution. In this decision, those ruling against the power of local governments were not acting as Constructionists by any but the most tortured definition, indeed, they are engaging in what, in other contexts, thouse who like to wave around the ideal of "Constructionism" would refer to as judicial activism.

  •  Our unsavory past (none)
    Not only is the issue one of class, it is also very much one of ethnicity.  Given this country's already grotesque history of "urban renewal" (read: Negro Removal) and de facto segregation, it is simply dangerous to give this sort of authority to the local council, many of whom often owe their election to development interests.  I think many of us can imagine what sort of people might be deemed incompatible with a civic makeover, and I believe these are facts in this particular case as well. Despicable.

       

    No one likes armed missionaries. -- Robespierre.

    by Gator Keyfitz on Thu Jun 23, 2005 at 08:48:55 AM PDT

  •  Conservatives have it right. (none)
    Dang I hate to say that...   While I understand the majority opinion -that it should be left to state courts, I can't help but think that the wealthy and corporate interests can manipulate those institutions at will.

    I don't understand why the free market can't take care of these domain issues. When the homeowner is not interested in selling, then the developer should raise their offer to persuade the land owner.  If developers can go whine to to the state authorities and force the eviction, then why would any developer ever pay a fair price for these land grabs?  I don't care about market comparables.  If the land is so valuable and special (in location) then the developer should have to write the check. It is great that developers make a profit, but the homeowner should also have the right to profit from their home sale and only THEY have the right to determine what that sale price should be.

    I think this is a good opportunity for the Democratic party to adopt this issue and roll it into a "Contract with America" type package. Renters and the poor who don't own homes can identify with this issue. People don't want to be kicked out of their home. Even if there are minimal legislative options, maybe we could push for a constitutional amendment (that we know will never pass).  Steal a page from the Republican playbook.  Play the issue to our benefit, but real progress need not ever be accomplished.  We get to use it to drive up anti-corporate sentiment and we also put pressure on local authorities to use eminent domain in a more judicious manner.  

     

  •  "Liberals" did this (none)
    I am a liberal Democrat, but here comes yet another decision by the "liberal" wing of the Supreme Court that makes me shake my head again. First the medical marijuana scumball. Now this.

    This is one of the main reasons why conservatives hate liberals  -- with good cause, I think. When do we really get on the side of the individual against big government and big business?

    The liberal leadership is just as sold out to corporate interests and statism as the conservatives. They make the rest of us look like hypocrites.

    I've been a Democrat all my life. I used to say that I was a Yellow Dog Democrat. Now I call myself a Junkyard Dog Democrat. Man, I just want to go and bite some people.

    Grrr.

    newsroom-l.net News and issues for journalists.

    by Jules Siegel on Thu Jun 23, 2005 at 08:59:55 AM PDT

  •  This ruling seems to be quite correct... (none)
    ...as a matter of federal Constitutional law. That's not to say it represents good policy, but it is a matter for the State Constitution and laws to define and limit the purposes for which the state and its subdivisions can use eminent domain; except for prohibiting discrimination and other violations of equal protection and due process, the federal Constitution does very little to limit the power of the states, and explicitly recognizes the power of eminent domain.

    No, while I agree that government shouldn't have powers this broad, its not the Supreme Court's duty to decide what the Constitution should be, but to enforce what it is.

  •  They just made another million Repubs. (none)
    Scared homeowners.

    No-one who voted against the USAPATRIOT Act has lost an election. I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State. Or Yours.

    by ben masel on Thu Jun 23, 2005 at 09:44:22 AM PDT

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