June 23, 2005
The decision was tied to a New London, CT case where the city wanted to seize an entire neighborhood of homes under eminent domain provisions, and hand that property over to a developer who would build an office, residential and retail complex supporting a new $300 million research facility of Pfizer Pharmaceutical. In their defense, the city claimed that the eminent domain clause of the 5th Amendment to the Constitution would apply here, as the project would increase tax revenues, create jobs and improve the local economy.
As for the people that lived there, in some cases for generations? The city said the heck with 'em. And five Supreme Court justices agreed with that.
Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens said the case turned on the question of whether New London's development plan served a "public purpose." He added, "Without exception, our cases have defined that concept broadly, reflecting our longstanding policy of deference to legislative judgments in this field."The larger ramifications of this were pointed out by minority opinions, filed by both Clarence Thomas and Sandra Day O'Connor.
New London officials "were not confronted with the need to remove blight in the Fort Trumbull area, but their determination that the area was sufficiently distressed to justify a program of economic rejuvenation is entitled to our deference," Stevens wrote. "The City has carefully formulated an economic development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including--but by no means limited to--new jobs and increased tax revenue."
Stevens added that "because that plan unquestionably serves a public purpose, the takings challenged here satisfy the public use requirement of the Fifth Amendment."
"Today the Court abandons this long-held, basic limitation on government power," O'Connor wrote. "Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded -- i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public -- in the process."Bottom line? If you own any property, and the local municipality decides that someone else "deserves" or "needs" your property more than you do (i.e., the "other guy" can increase the tax base or provide jobs), then you're S.O.L. They get to take your land. And you don't have a damn thing to say about it.
The effect of the decision, O'Connor said, "is to wash out any distinction between private and public use of property -- and thereby effectively to delete the words "for public use" from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment."
So much for the concept of personal property rights. Thanks to this decision, you can just kiss that right -- which was one of those guaranteed by the Constitution itself, mind you -- away.
Posted by: Odd Brian at June 23, 2005 09:17 AM (ylsZ5)
Thomas DID write his own dissent (as noted at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8331097/ and elsewhere)Thomas filed a separate opinion to argue that seizing homes for private development, even with just compensation, is unconstitutional.
The consequences of todays decision are not difficult to predict, and promise to be harmful, Thomas wrote. So-called urban renewal programs provide some compensation for the properties they take, but no compensation is possible for the subjective value of these lands to the individuals displaced and the indignity inflicted.
Posted by: Michael at June 23, 2005 09:35 AM (yLqdM)
Posted by: Todd at June 23, 2005 04:01 PM (1t5+z)
Posted by: Guy S at June 23, 2005 04:26 PM (RROib)
Posted by: Odd Brian at June 24, 2005 06:05 AM (ylsZ5)
Posted by: Fausta at June 25, 2005 07:23 AM (G3tVf)
Posted by: elgodosimp at June 26, 2005 05:27 AM (byvTp)
Posted by: Kevin Miller at June 14, 2011 07:02 AM (9Adso)
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