Saturday, February 04, 2006

What Property Rights?

A Jan 17 letter in the Buffalo News stated that eminent domain “Is explicitly permitted so long as “just compensation “ is paid.” and “under 100 years of court decisions it is the states that have the power to decide what projects are “for public use.” this is misleading.

Amendment V, states “ nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” Eminent domain is authorized, but for public use” the states do not have the power to dictate what “public use” is, that power belongs ultimately to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately each time a state has encroached on property rights the courts redefine the meaning of “public use” (What happened to Rule of Law?). Once it was unthinkable that a poor mans land would be taken away from him, by force if necessary, and given to a rich man, it’s called fighting blight now, in colonial days they were called “Lords”. The latest trick, revenue crazed municipalities use is condemning middleclass neighborhoods, confiscating them, then giving it to politically connected developers who promise more revenue.

Justice Stevens, cited cases in which the court has interpreted "public use" to include not only such traditional projects as bridges or highways but also slum clearance and land redistribution. He concluded that a "public purpose" (notice he changed USE to PURPOSE) such as creating jobs in a depressed city can also satisfy the Fifth Amendment. Using Stevens’ own words we see how he justifies theft. Justice O’Connor in the descent stated, "specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."

The majority went on to say the government could pass laws protecting private property. Or the fox can guard the hen house? A far cry from Thomas Jefferson’s “Let no more be heard of the confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief with the chains of the Constitution.” The Supreme Court is slowly destroying the links in the chain.

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