Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Supreme Contradiction

This is my attempt to say something sensible about the Ten Commandments cases. Combine these two incoherent decisions, with the Kelo decision (also see this and this and this), and no one should be surprised at the political anger directed at the Court that has risen among ordinary citizens. This will have large consequences, from people questioning their elected local officials ("will you take away my house and give it over for development just to get more revenue for the city?"), to calls for a constitutional amendment overthrowing the decision. Remember what happened to the Dred Scott case?

Discussions - 8 Comments

Unlike kicking those poor folks out of Chavez Ravine, in the 1950s, Kelo will affect middle class citizens. I hate to sound cynical about this, but class difference is huge. It is the middle that drives this country, that pushes it in whatever direction it chooses. I’m not sure the political class really understand that (or they don’t care), and this ignorance may result in a servere backlash should too many of these folks face eviction, for the purpose of raising tax revenue.

I happen to think that we won’t be seeing many evictions as a result of Kelo. It won’t come to that; the message that this decision sends is that homeowners who hold out will be faced with eviction. Most people don’t want to make headlines with pathetic last-ditch stands. Look instead for homeowners to jump on whatever sort of deal they are offered.

what was wrong with the dred-scott decision??..the court was late in following the lead of congress who had already passed legislation to return missing slaves and the court agreed..

Criticism of Kelo isn’t likely to be even across the country, though. Ever been to New London? Those folks need all the economic development they can get. Same thing in Cincinnati, Syracuse, Hartford. Plus, "red states" are getting more federal dollars than "blue states," so they have less need to engage in the kind of economic planning that northeastern cities like New London find attractive. (This means, paradoxically perhaps, that any federal efforts to restrict eminent domain will be most effective in states that are less likely to do so anyway, since federal dollars are the main engine of federal control.)

My bet is that two things will mitigate any negative reaction to Kelo. First, the property-rights lobby is divided on this issue. The Institute for Justice does not speak for Pfizer or for developers, and corporations helped to create the property-rights lobby in the first place. Second, locally elected boards are not going to engage in systematic condemnation of middle-class housing. It’s just not going to happen, although that won’t prevent anger on the margins of the debate.

Kelo is an abomination.

As soon as it was learned the family being thrown out of Chavez Ravine owned other property, all sympathy for them disappeared from the local papers. In other words, they were middle class.

Second, locally elected boards are not going to engage in systematic condemnation of middle-class housing. It’s just not going to happen, although that won’t prevent anger on the margins of the debate.

Wrong. Are you actually suggesting that once the government has license to confiscate property it won’t?? That the government will exercise restraint?!? Really? Where to begin? Do you know any native Americans? Do uo remember that Wilson vetoed a limit on the income tax because the income tax that would never go above 3%? Have you ever dealt with a regulator/inspector/bureaucratic tool who has found some justification for getting his hooks into your property? Your business? Ever been audited? For the love of God, if conservatives are sitting around comforting themselves with the idea that the central government - or even local government - will exercise "restraint" in their new right to give your property to their large donors, all really is lost.

I will not wait for them to show restraint - I want an amendment to the Ohio Constitution banning this disgusting practice, I want it yesterday, and when the petitions are drawn up I plan to circulate some. Furthermore I will be a one issue voter in whichever election has this amendment on the ballot. Any candidate for stopping land seizure will get my vote. Any counting on the government and big business to restrain themselves, forget it.

As to your theory that the middle class is safe from this practice, I would suggest you contemplate these "blighted" "non middle class" homes, all condemned and stolen in a disgusting rape of the Bill of Rights in Cincinnati:

Forced Eviction: It’s Not Just for Poor People and Indians Anymore...

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