In an article called The U.S. Supreme Court: Strike Three I reported that in a 5-4 decision a divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday municipalities may bulldoze people’s homes to make way for shopping malls or other private development. This gives local governments broad power to seize private property to generate tax revenue.
Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority, said New London could pursue private development under the Fifth Amendment, which allows governments to take private property if the land is for public use, since the project the city has in mind promises to bring more jobs and revenue.
In a largely symbolic gesture, voters in Supreme Court Justice David Souter’s hometown on Tuesday rejected a proposal to seize his 200-year-old farmhouse as payback for a ruling that expanded government’s authority to take property.
Even though voters overwhelmingly agreed to leave Souter’s home alone, it would have been safe whatever the outcome.
The vote was prompted by activists angered by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision last year in a property rights case from Connecticut. Souter sided with the majority in holding that governments can take property and turn it over to private developers.
Originally, the ballot measure called for the seizure of Souter’s home so that it could be turned into an inn called the Lost Liberty Hotel. But at a town meeting in February, residents of this town of 8,500 watered down the language.
Voters decided 1,167 to 493 in favor of the reworded measure that asked the Board of Selectmen not to use their power of eminent domain to take the farmhouse, and instead urged New Hampshire to adopt a law that forbids seizures of the sort sanctioned by the Supreme Court.
“It makes Souter the only person in the United States that would be given special protection against his own ruling,” said Logan Darrow Clements of Los Angeles, a businessman who led the campaign to evict Souter.
Souter has not commented on the matter.
Two of the major players pushing for the seizure of Souter’s home also lost their bids for the five-member Board of Selectmen on Tuesday.
Hat Tip: Reader John Burns
This Eminent Domain debate is a major issue that needs to be dealt with quickly. People are losing their homes all over the country right now to commercial development; this is wrong.
When Thomas Jefferson used the words the Pursuit of Happiness in the Declaration of Independence he was directly referring to the right to own private property. First came property tax which made us all renters on our own private property and now the use of Eminent Domain to steal private property from private property owners to give to another individual for commercial development under the excuse it will bring in increased tax revenues and create jobs. I cannot find anything in the Constitution to back up this right. The Fifth Amendment clearly states for PUBLIC USE, not private use. The fallout of the Kelo decision has continued ever since.
A Google search of Eminent Domain yields 12,000,000 hits and a Google News Search yields 2,850 stories. That is up almost 800 news stories since I last reported on it in December. Do you still think it is much ado about nothing?
This doesn’t bother those on the Left because they think private property acquisition yields inequalities and is wrong. That would be because they are communists, under one label or another, and they believe in the re-distribution of wealth.
The cockroaches in Congress have done nothing substantive to protect our private property rights, and you should let them know how you feel about it.