Monday, February 28, 2005

The New London Eminent Domain Case

Has been covered well elsewhere. I don't need to reiterate my view on property rights and their central role in a free society, particularly since that has been done so well, here and here and here and here, among other places. It bothers me to no end, and I think that it may very well be the single biggest issue for me as far as politics is concerned. Use of eminent domain aside from strictly defined government uses (i.e. roads, rails, utilities, and, perhaps, in a real stretch, a school or library) is simply intolerable, and is nothing short of outright tyranny as far as I am concerned. It's not as far as some people think from cases such as this one involving less-affluent homeowners to an all out collectivization ala 1930 Ukraine.

That being said, it all was made even worse to me this morning, reading this exchange from Jeff Jacoby's article on the situation:

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor presses Wesley Horton, the lawyer for New London, on whether eminent domain can really be deployed to condemn any property that could be put to better use.

"For example, a Motel 6," O'Connor says. "A city thinks, 'If we had a Ritz-Carlton, we'd get higher taxes.' Is that OK?"

"Yes, that's OK," Horton replies.

Justice Antonin Scalia: "You can take from A and give it to B, if B pays more in taxes?"

Horton: "Yes, if it's a significant amount."

What amazes me about this exchange is the brazen nature of it. I somehow thought these were misguided folks, who perhaps hadn't thought out the full implications of their actions. But no. Even when faced with the bottom line of their actions - in cold, black and white terms - they stand by the position that, yes, if someone can pay more in taxes than you, then you are not entitled to control over your property.


Simply Astounding.


Anonymous Maia said...

Yeah I agree -- I really am holding my breath on this one. If the SCOTUS screws this up, it will set a very scary precedent.

Property rights and equal treatment under the law are the two linchpins of a free society. I could care less about "democracy" - much ado about nothing, and thank God the US isn't a democracy anyway.

Property rights I care about.

4:36 PM  

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