Friday, June 24, 2005

Kelo vs. New London

My, isn't this Supreme Court case causing a little stir.
For those of you that don't know, eminient domain is the ability of the government to take your property with due compensation. All the city needs to do is prove that the property will be used for the greater public good. What is considered "greater public good" is constantly up for debate. According to Kelo, "greater public good" now includes the ability for a city to take property if the new owners are going to develop the land to increase the economic welfare of the city.
I beleive that some semblence of eminent domain is necessary. "Public Good" is an acceptable reason if matters of safety and security are at stake. And lets remember that the land is taken with just compensation, usually above market value.
Saying that, I can't find one shred of good reasoning behind this case. Eminient domain on the basis of economic development? This means that the city can drive out any group of people that are not "supporting" the tax base of the city simply by creating a study that shows in improvement of tax revenue. Think I'm over the line? You read the opinion here (Kelo vs. New London) and show me where the majority states that this can't happen. In fact, the court sets a very disturbing precident by making the remarks,

Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government


and

Quite simply, the government's pursuit of of a public purpose will often benefit individual private parties


You might see the quotes as no big deal. I see the quotes as flying directly in the face of basic Constitutional principles. One of the main reasons that the Constitution was created was to protect the concept of private property. If you let a person cultivate and maintain that property, that person is more likely to be involved in government, promote a healthy economy, and defend the values of the country. If you think I'm being over-patriotic then you might want to reread the Constitution and the some of the comments made by the Founders. Then you might want to go back to Economics and read about how owning capital creates political involvement because you have more to lose.

I'm not big into calling out the government every time there is a mistake, but this time, I'm calling out the Supreme Court of the United States. Their decision was based on the trust of government instead of the trust in the people and the Constitution of the United States. Yes, the government helps guide positive economic decisions for the U.S. However, the end result of our success as an economic power has come from the marketplace and the ability of the consumer to make wise choices. In this case, basic economic decisions are now in the hands of city government, not the owners of private property.

I have to agree with Clarence Thomas on this case. The Supreme Court dumped on the foundation and core values of the United States Constitution.
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