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calendar   Monday - February 28, 2005

Eminent Domain

his is generally a topic most Americans are unaware of.  I hope BMEWS readers do not fall into that category.

Neal Boortz rants about it frequently.  And rightly so.

The latest incident is taking place in New London, Ct. where the city wants to kick 7 homeowners out of their houses (because they do not generate enough tax revenue) in order to allow the building of hotels, condos and luxury apartments.

Eminent domain, according to the Constitution, allows the state to take a homeowner’s property when it is needed for public use.  I interpret that to mean:  putting in a highway to alleviate traffic congestion, widening a road, even schools.

But to increase tax revenue?

That’s an abomination.

Yet our Supreme Court is hearing the case now and thanks to Jeff Jacoby, who writes this article, we find out the following quotes from the Justices themselves:

When Bullock (a lawyer from the Institute for Justice) argues that New London wants to throw people out of their homes for the sake of ordinary economic development, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asks why that’s a problem. New London is depressed, she says; what’s wrong with trying to “build it up and get more jobs?” If the city could buy property on the open market and turn it over to a developer, wonders Justice David Souter, why can’t it use eminent domain to achieve the same end? Justice Stephen Breyer notes that there is bound to be some public benefit from almost any land taking. Isn’t that enough to satisfy the Constitution’s “public use” requirement?

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor presses Wesley Horton, the lawyer for New London, on whether eminent domain can really be deployed to condemn any property that could be put to better use. 

“For example, a Motel 6,” O’Connor says. “A city thinks, ‘If we had a Ritz-Carlton, we’d get higher taxes.’ Is that OK?”

“Yes, that’s OK,” Horton replies.

Justice Antonin Scalia: “You can take from A and give it to B, if B pays more in taxes?”

Horton: “Yes, if it’s a significant amount.”

Be afraid, people.  Be very afraid.


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Posted by Ranting Right Wing Howler   United States  on 02/28/2005 at 09:29 AM   
Filed Under: • Judges-Courts-Lawyers •  
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