Captain Corruption\'s Commentary

Monday, July 04, 2005

More Fun with Eminent Domain

Back on the topic of Eminent Domain and the Kelo decision... It has been suggested to me recently that the Kelo decision is but a small shift in the power of Eminent Domain. I must respectfully disagree. It has been suggested to me that the pre-Kelo powers of Eminent Domain could be abused... absolutely they could! Some abuses, like George W. Bush and the Texas Rangers, should have been taken to task at the Supreme Court level, but for reasons unknown to this author were not. Perhaps, though, those would-be plaintiffs anticipated the SCOTUS decision and chose to cut their losses.

Every law can be abused, and ALL sides abuse. Governmental power is especially prone to abuse, seeing as how its backed ultimately by the military, which is why it frightens me, and why I wish to see it limited. Our founding fathers understood the potential for governmental abuse, which is precisely why they drafted this nutty little document called the U.S. Constitution* and IMMEDIATELY insisted on amending it with the Bill of Rights* to further LIMIT the powers of government. (Links provided for all folks who haven't read those documents... READ THEM... If you're a US citizen they, theoretically*, rule your country. They should be required reading, once per year at least, in grade school, middle school, AND high school IMO)

Regardless of individually abused loop holes, like those of George Bush and the Texas Rangers, the Kelo decision legitimizes the direct seizure of private property to be handed over to other private landholders on the tenuous basis that the public might benefit through more property tax revenue. Let us review that takings clause again, shall we? Said clause anchors the Fifth Amendment:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Wait a minute... what did it say again?

nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

But that's NOT what Kelo says. Kelo says that private property can be seized by the government to be handed over to another PRIVATE entity.

In other words If your local small town council thinks the developer that lined 50% of their campaign pockets could "benefit" the community through more property taxes if that developer owned and developed your home you can bet your home is a goner. This is not a minor shift...

Until Kelo Eminent Domain required actual public use (a road, a park, a public convention center, etc), or at the very least proof of blight, to seize property. Now, if they think the local slum lord could provide a larger property tax base by taking your mom's home and dividing it into 4 rental units, BAM its a goner and mom's shopping for a new house. Or, as is the case in Kelo, if a big bad pharmaceutical company like Pfizer says we want your home you can be forced to sell.

This sort of governmental power should frighten everyone. I don't want the governments, large and small, federal to local to have any more power, especially over unalienable rights like life, liberty and property... from Patriot Act to Kelo to RealID our constitution is being burned page by page, and the principles our nation was founded on have all but disappeared.

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms [of government] those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny

The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.

-- Thomas Jefferson

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.

-- Daniel Webster

*US Constitution and the Bill of Rights - Some restrictions apply. Void where prohibited by law. See activist justices and eager attorneys for details.


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