Thursday, June 23, 2005

Supremes get it wrong again.

The littlest one is sitting on the living room floor playing with puzzles, so I have time to do a little surfing and learn that the Supremes have come down on the side of private development rather than private property rights.

That's an oversimplification, but Captains Quarters is all over it. Basically, the Supremes said that
In a 5-4 decision, the court upheld the ability of New London, Conn., to seize people's homes to make way for an office, residential and retail complex supporting a new $300 million research facility of the Pfizer pharmaceutical company. The city had argued that the project served a public use within the meaning of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution because it would increase tax revenues, create jobs and improve the local economy.
Be that as it may, the way I read that is that if my home is in the way of some developer, the government can use eminent domain to seize my home and sell it to the developer, as long as my property will generate more taxes in the developer's hands than mine.

That isn't the way I read the eminent domain clause of the US Constitution.

In my simple mind, the state has the right to take my property for public use, as long as they pay market value for it. Fair enough. If the government needs a road, a bridge, or something that will benefit the public at large, I can live with eminent domain. If the government needs a business tax base, they shouldn't have the right to take my house so a business can move in. That's just wrong and I don't see how anyone can rationally say otherwise.

From my reading, I see that the majority (5-4) had to say that they deferred to legislative action in this case, but that eminent domain should not be used to transfer private property from one owner to another. Yet, it seems that this decision allows the city of New London, CT to do exactly that.

Geez! What do those folks think about when they do these things?

1 comment:

Schroeder said...

There was absolutely no reason why the developer (New London Development Corporation) shouldn't have been forced to negotiate a price that was acceptable to the prospective sellers. Instead, New London granted powers of eminent domain so the developer could evict homeowners, paying simple "market" value. They should have been willing to pay a whole lot more for a development worth so much.