Posts tagged ‘kelo’

Oh, Just Great

Richard Epstein on Sotomayor:

Here is one straw in the wind that does not bode well for a Sotomayor appointment. Justice Stevens of the current court came in for a fair share of criticism (all justified in my view) for his expansive reading in Kelo v. City of New London (2005) of the "public use language." Of course, the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment is as complex as it is short: "Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." But he was surely done one better in the Summary Order in Didden v. Village of Port Chester issued by the Second Circuit in 2006. Judge Sotomayor was on the panel that issued the unsigned opinion"“one that makes Justice Stevens look like a paradigmatic defender of strong property rights.

I have written about Didden in Forbes. The case involved about as naked an abuse of government power as could be imagined. Bart Didden came up with an idea to build a pharmacy on land he owned in a redevelopment district in Port Chester over which the town of Port Chester had given Greg Wasser control. Wasser told Didden that he would approve the project only if Didden paid him $800,000 or gave him a partnership interest. The "or else" was that the land would be promptly condemned by the village, and Wasser would put up a pharmacy himself. Just that came to pass. But the Second Circuit panel on which Sotomayor sat did not raise an eyebrow. Its entire analysis reads as follows: "We agree with the district court that [Wasser's] voluntary attempt to resolve appellants' demands was neither an unconstitutional exaction in the form of extortion nor an equal protection violation."

Maybe I am missing something, but American business should shudder in its boots if Judge Sotomayor takes this attitude to the Supreme Court.

I covered the Didden case back in 2006, where I called it "the worst government abuse I have seen lately," an abuse that has since been Okay-ed by Sotomayor.

Update: I guess given his actions in Chrysler, Obama was happy to nominate a Supreme Court justice who gives a legal pass to outright blackmail.

Kelo Update

Cato has a good 6-minute video on the Kelo imminent domain case.  As an update, the Kelo house has been bulldozed, along with the rest of the neighborhood, but no construction has or is expected to take place in the area any time soon.

PS- the Maxine Waters pious defense of property rights is simply hilarious

Libertarians are Screwed

There are those of a libertarian bent who want to believe that the current bitch-slapping that Congressional Republicans are being handed right at this moment portends well for libertarians:  I beg to differ.  Don't get me wrong, the Republicans deserve what they get.  But this election should not be taken as a sign that the electorate is going all libertarian.  Forget exit polls and what the news says about why people are voting the way they are -- that stuff is always garbage.  Look past the people races and look to the ballot initiatives.

All over America, I don't think voters are punishing Congress for wielding too much power over their lives.  Because when the voters themselves are being offered legislative power via propositions to use the full coercive power of government to compel their neighbors to do the majority's bidding, they are jumping on the statist bandwagon gleefully.  Minimum wage hikes, smoking bans, new regulations, bans on gay marriage, restrictions on immigrants; heck, we even have ballot initiatives with micro-regulations for animal cage sizes.   They are all passing in Arizona and across the country. 

Currently 77% of Arizonans have voted to make Arizona prisons mini-Gitmo's for illegal immigrants, denying them bail for any crime.  75% want to make sure no Spanish is spoken in the statehouse.  66% want to interfere in employer/employee wage negotiations.  55% want to give bar owners no choice in whether they allow smoking in their own private establishment.

Note that there is no consistent theme of conservatism or liberalism in these issues.   The first two might be seen as "conservative" issues and the second two as "liberal" issues.  But the same 2/3 are voting for each.  This is not a victory for the left or the right, but for big government populism.  The voters are getting a taste of bending their fellow citizens to their whims via the government, and they seem to like it.

Update: I am trying not to get mad, but 75% - 3/4 of the people in this state - are voting to not allow illegal immigrants to collect punitive damage awards.  I'm sorry, I understand that people are frustrated with the immigration topic, but there are certain things that strike me as basic under any notion of equal protection, that should apply irregardless of citizenship status.  Protections we should offer to any human being that happens to be in our borders.  And the ability to seek redress for damages in court should be one of them.

In addition, 57% are currently supporting the initiative to ban probation for meth users, so that even minor meth possession charges will lead to a jail term.  This means that the hugely enlightened and highly successful policy of filling up jails with marijuana users is going to be emulated and applied to meth use.

On the positive side, so far the gay marriage amendment is not passing, and the proposition to put limits on Kelo-type eminent domain takings looks like it will pass.

There just seems to be a huge philosophical muddle behind the voting here.  The electorate votes to limit kelo-type government takings and to require compensation in zoning cases where private land values are reduced, but at the same time votes strongly to ban smoking in bars and to raise the minimum wage, both of which are effectively government actions that takes value away arbitrarily from certain private individuals and businesses.

For years I have lamented tthat the average American has no philosophy -- he or she only has a hodge-podge of inconsistent political views stitched together from his/her parents, from peer pressure of their social group, and from random encounters with the media.  Never have I felt this as strongly as I do tonight.