Monday, July 04, 2005

The Supreme Court and Eminent Domain

Last week I wrote about a project getting underway to try and get Supreme Court Justice Souter’s home in New Hampshire condemned so that a hotel could be built on it. This is supposed to be “payback” for his voting in favor of allowing the city of New London, Connecticut to take private property solely for the purpose of economic development.

If one actually reads the decision, as I have, it’s painfully clear how the court has gone astray (again). The justices ruling in favor of New London rely solely on previous court decisions made in the past several decades and totally ignore “Original Intent” of the Constitution. I came to this conclusion while reading the decision, and at the end of Justice Thomas’ dissent, he says the same thing.

A couple of thoughts on this; First of all, those who say that this decision represents a “new direction” or “increased powers” of local government haven’t been paying attention. This decision really breaks no new ground. It just reaffirms previous decisions and quotes several previous cases where the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a very broad interpretation of eminent domain. Second, even in Justice O’Connor’s dissent, she tries to split hairs by saying that it’s OK to take land for development for, say, a sports stadium, but it’s not OK for this particular development project. Talk about slippery slopes… And third, this just reaffirms my opinion that “Original Intent” is not the ruling guideline for all of Supreme Court justices. How can it be anything else?

Getting back to the attempt to “take” Justice Souter’s home, I predict it will go nowhere quickly. First of all, it’s in New Hampshire. This is a State, above all other States, that favors individual rights. And second, the Supreme Court decision affirms that it’s the local government which must make these decisions. This means that the Selectman of Weare, the town in which Justice Souter lives, would have to sponsor a development project and then invite in developers for proposals. Unless they have a personal vendetta against Justice Souter, they just aren’t going to do it.

If you’re interested in current developments in the "Lost Liberty Hotel" project, visit the Freestar Media website.

Happy 4th of July...

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