Eminently Dangerous Eminent Domain

The Supreme Court today blessed (5-4) the conspiracy of big business and big government to act against individuals.  (Text of the decision.) The Court decided that it is perfectly Constitutional for a government to take your home from you and to hand the property to other private people the government likes better, people who will make their own money from it.

What an dangerous stretch of governmental authority in furtherance of concentration of economic wealth!

This horrible alliance of corporate and governmental greed is stunning.  It’s the kind of act that induced our forbearers to call for a new government of, for, and by the people.

I am at a loss to suggest what wording to put into our Constitution to make it plainer that individual people have the rights to own private property and that government’s power  is limited by that same Constitution.  The judges on the Supreme Court have issued a twisted, tortured interpretation of “public use”.  The decision flies in the face of the traditional goals of private home ownership and limited government.

Congress must act!  It must pass laws to stop the taking of homes for private development project. It must also stop the Supreme Court from blessing the union of big government and corporate developers.  If halting that alliance takes a Constitutional Amendment, such an Amendment will be supported by a large majorities from many spots on the political spectrum.

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2 Responses to Eminently Dangerous Eminent Domain

  1. For another take on the story, see this.

    • ozdachs says:

      Thanks for the link.  But, for me the issue isn’t  a financial one. My concern is whether any government should be able to decide that it likes one private property owner over another. 

        argues on a narrow economic basis.  He’s not making a Constitutional argument.  It’s a developer’s argument, maybe, but not one concerning an individual rights to own property.  

      Moreover, the assurances of Free Market Value being paid strike me as red herrings at best. 

      If, for example, moving from my childhood home would greatly upset me — or if I just don’t want to move — I could give you a price of $56 billion to sell. I think you should take my offer or leave it.  If you’re connected politically, the Supreme Court now says you can go to the government and have them force me out for the “Free Market Value” of, oh, $1.5 million.  And, then you’ll be able to make your own $56 billion on your own new, private shopping center (or whatever). 

      A coerced sale is not a free one, even if one side pays some money. And, tell me again where the government was given the right to intercede on a private-party transaction?

      As for the argument that a shopping center will improve the area’s economics, I don’t recall the Founding Fathers enshrining the Divine Right of Economic Growth.  And, for good reason.  One person’s vision of growth is another person’s concrete slum.  There is no reasonable standard of public benefit on such matters.  The Supreme Court will have an easier time defining “obscenity” than “public benefit” in these cases.

      Moreover, the economics of the illustrative “Case Study” supporting the Supreme Court’s ruling, stumped me. The “HUGE profit” made by a slumlord renting at $4 a square foot and a 60% vacancy rate just didn’t scan.  And, the failure of the local authorities to adequate enforce laws and existing building codes also fails to persuade me that the remedy is the destruction of the right to own property. I dislike slum lords, welfare queens, drug dealers near elementary schools, and other social parasites as much as anyone else.  But, while bashing those low-lifes is fun, it doesn’t justify any and all actions taken in the name of combating them.

      Finally, my comments on the ruling were written without benefit of media direction.  I heard the ruling as it was announced early this morning, turned off the radio, and started pounding the keys as soon as I returned  home from the gym.  The ad hominem suggestion that only sheep listening to the media would scream at the wrongness of today’s decision is off base.

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