EDITORIAL: WHAT WERE THE SUPREME COURT THINKING?
By Matthew Brown, publisher
Thanks to a horribly unjust 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, there is no longer any such thing a right to private property in the United States of Avarice. Unless you are rich and powerful, you can be thrown out of your home by city hall at a whim. Eminent Domain used to allow the government to seize property only for public uses such as building a highway. This is no longer the case. If developers want the land your home is on to build a fancy place for the rich to shop, they can take it. They have to give you "just compensation," but if they decide that five bucks is enough, your only recourse is to sue. Naturally, only the rich can afford this. Only with horribly contorted reasoning corrupted by bribery does seizing peoples homes for private developers constitute public use.
Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority saying, "Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted governmental function, and there is no principled way of distinguishing it from the other public purposes the court has recognized." Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer agreed with Stevens. The dissenters were justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. This came as a surprise. The right wing of the court, usually the ones willing to give big business a license to rob and loot, are the dissenters. The ones I used to think were reasonable are clearly out of their minds.
Justice O'Conner wrote, "The 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. Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private property, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result."
The case of Kelo v. City of New London, No. 04-108 will go down in history as something infamous. Those who fought to save their homes in New London, Connecticut have lost, and will not be the only losers. This ruling will be abused from now on. Maybe someday a more reasonable and just Supreme Court will reconsider this decision, and reverse it, but I will not hold my breath waiting for it. There are simply no words adequate to describe how wrong this decision is in the English language, and I suspect all other tongues are equally inadequate. Is the golden rule to be "He who has the gold makes the rules?"
A big tiger gets more meat than a small tiger. Might is right. This is the law of the jungle. The law of the land is supposed to be different. If it is not, then what was civilization for?
UPDATE: Not only have the former homeowners of New London Connecticut lost their homes, but now the developer is suing them for back rent! The New London Development Corp. claims that since they lost the fight, they were on city property the whole time they fought it out in the courts, and owe rent that could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. We are not making this up! Here are links to other media outlets covering this outrage. Fairfield County Weekly. The Gadflyer. Will the injustice never end?