Sunday, June 26, 2005

Kelo vs New London

As most of you already know, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has voted 5-4 in favor of eminent domain powers. For those that don't know, eminent domain powers are those given to local and national governing bodies (i.e. your State Legislature and our National Government) by the 5th Amendment. These powers allow for a government to seize private property :

'nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.'
- US Constitution, 5th Amendment

As FindLaw states, this is a tacit recognition of a preexisting right that the states have allowing them to seize private property as long as that land is to be put to public use (i.e. for the betterment of society as a whole). These powers, at least how I read them, are further fleshed out in the 14th Amendment, section 1.

Initially, I'm pretty skeptical about the whole deal. On the surface it seems that SCOTUS just sided with big business though Armondo at DailyKos seems to think otherwise. The dissertation was pretty lengthy and well written. It even gave me pause and made me reevaluate my initial position. I still think they made the wrong decision though and here's why: It's the job of the Supreme Court to check the other two governing bodies. When legislators and our executives fail to protect the people; SCOTUS us our last bulwark.

They have passed the buck so to speak. It is now up to the states to decide where they stand on legislatures handing over eminent domain powers to private corporations. Sucks to be living in Florida and Connecticut right now. Seems precedent is set in those states. Even my own state seems pretty much on track to derail a citizens right to his or her property. Citizens, at the state level, will have to try to influence legislators on how broadly to define eminent domain. I really don't know if your average citizen is up to the task.

I'm still developing my opinion on the matter but as it stands now I think SCOTUS made the wrong call.


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