Sunday, June 26, 2005

This Land Is Your Land, This Land Was My Land...

Today's Commentary: June 26th, 2005

So when you woke up this weekend from your evening slumber, did anything feel different? It should have - thanks to "The Red Five." And no, I'm not speaking of Luke Skywalker's wingman. I speak of the communist bastards, Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy. Remember them? They are the ones who want so badly to be well received by their socialist buddies in Paris, that they invoked "the overwhelming weight of international opinion," to redefine our Constitution and its interpretation of the death penalty. I hope they enjoy France after this session closes. Be sure to check on granny before you go, comrades. You wouldn't want her to turn into a creme brulee the way grandpa Pierre did last summer.

And why would the actions of The Red Five make you feel any different? Simple. Because of their recent ruling, anyone who wants your home and property can take it whenever they want as long as they promise the local town government that they will build something - anything that will increase the tax revenue for the town. This represents a frightful shift from the Constitutional text of "public use" to the socialist utopian concept of "public benefit" as noted by dissenting Justice Thomas:

"This deferential shift in phraseology enables the Court to hold, against all common sense, that a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation, is for a 'public use.'"

Just in case you missed it, The Red Five sided with the town of New London, CT and decided to screw the property owners in the case of KELO V. NEW LONDON. A case which undoubtedly has King George III laughing his ass off from the great beyond. The town of New London has decided, in the name of increased tax revenue, to invoke the power of eminent domain, dumping the taxpayer peasantry for a shiny, new corporate taxpayer. Lets take a look at the opinion (by Justice Stevens) of the 5-4 ruling.

First, Comrade Stevens notes that the property in question is not dilapidated:

"There is no allegation that any of these properties is blighted or otherwise in poor condition; rather, they were condemned only because they happen to be located in the development area."

Then, he clearly admits that this is not REALLY for "public use":

"On the other hand, this is not a case in which the City is planning to open the condemned land-at least not in its entirety-to use by the general public. Nor will the private lessees of the land in any sense be required to operate like common carriers, making their services available to all comers."

Since he has clearly stated that this ruling is in fact, in violation of The Constitution, Comrade Stevens begins to blur the lines:

"Those who govern the City 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. 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."

Oh, I see. The town says "Hey, we can do better. Lets hire some lawyers," and that's all she wrote for the residents of the "condemned" property.

In cases mentioned in the opinion, eminent domain was used to condemn properties that were "beyond repair" in D.C. or to trust-bust an oligopoly in land ownership which artificially inflated prices and rents on Oahu. Neither of these are the case in New London.

If you need any more evidence that this ruling goes against everything our nation of limited government was founded on, consider that the NY Times editorialized that this is a great ruling:

"The Supreme Court's ruling yesterday that the economically troubled city of New London, Conn., can use its power of eminent domain to spur development was a welcome vindication of cities' ability to act in the public interest." ... "Connecticut is a rich state with poor cities, which must do everything they can to attract business and industry. New London's development plan may hurt a few small property owners, who will, in any case, be fully compensated. But many more residents are likely to benefit if the city can shore up its tax base and attract badly needed jobs."

Justice O'Connor writes in her dissenting opinion about the property owners, excuse me, the serfs of New London who will be effected:

"Petitioners are nine resident or investment owners of 15 homes in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood of New London, Connecticut. Petitioner Wilhelmina Dery, for example, lives in a house on Walbach Street that has been in her family for over 100 years. She was born in the house in 1918; her husband, petitioner Charles Dery, moved into the house when they married in 1946. Their son lives next door with his family in the house he received as a wedding gift, and joins his parents in this suit. Two petitioners keep rental properties in the neighborhood."

Ahh - screw 'em. As long as the town of New London can satiate its ever increasing appetite for tax revenue.

But hey, its for the public good right? And the NY Times thinks its a great idea, right? I mean, I'm sure the land used will be put to good use, right? Justice O'Connor answers that question for us:

"Petitioners own properties in two of the plan's seven parcels –Parcel 3 and Parcel 4A. Under the plan, Parcel 3 is slated for the construction of research and office space as a market develops for such space. It will also retain the existing Italian Dramatic Club (a private cultural organization) though the homes of three plaintiffs in that parcel are to be demolished. Parcel 4A is slated, mysteriously, for 'park support.' .... At oral argument, counsel for respondents conceded the vagueness of this proposed use, and offered that the parcel might eventually be used for parking."

Think about the ramifications. Who will this ruling most likely be used against? The politically connected?

I suppose we should at least be grateful that the town of New London was honest about their reasons for this land-grab. The bald-faced focus on increased tax revenue as a "public benefit" to rationalize this perverted ruling effectively means none of us are safe from wealthy, politically connected land developers who can now low-ball a property owner on the value of their holding by using the threat of eminent domain.

Personally, I am not the least bit surprised that the liberal Red Five, decided to screw the 'little guy'. Like most liberals in positions of power, they ditched any pretense of principle when the opportunity to increase government control and tax revenue reared its ugly head. The Red Five would bulldoze a daycare center to make way for a Marlboro plant if they thought a buck was to be made by it.

I will leave you with this tidbit from Justice O'Connor's dissent. Just in case you still believe that the America you are in now is the same one you were in last week:

"If legislative prognostications about the secondary public benefits of a new use can legitimate a taking, there is nothing in the Court's rule or in Justice Kennedy's gloss on that rule to prohibit property transfers generated with less care, that are less comprehensive, that happen to result from less elaborate process, whose only projected advantage is the incidence of higher taxes, or that hope to transform an already prosperous city into an even more prosperous one."

Chilling, indeed. Welcome to the Brave New World. This is why the looming battle for SCOTUS is literally a battle for our livelihoods.


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