Notes on Political Venality, Pomposity and Associated Stupidity.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Take My House...Please!

Due process took one on the chin last week, when the Supreme Court tromped all over the Fifth Amendment, specifically this portion, "..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."

It's the due process part that they basically turned their backs on, handing property rights a severe blow. Proponents, including the New York Times, argue that the ruling demands a "comprehensive plan" as a part of any "taking," but that is a specious and shallow argument. Every development has a plan. Current zoning, planning and envirornment law make this a necessity. Therefore, ANY development, anywhere, is probably, within the scope of the Court's decisions, fair game for the use of eminent domain.

Those who argue in favor of the ruling have apparently never sat in on a local government meeting of any sort, where a cadre of (mostly) nitwits argue and blather on endlessly, then make decisions, usually with almost no knowledge of whatever the issue is. When a developer comes to them and promises "revitalization" and "more jobs," they don't even stop to think - they green light the projects and slip a few extra bucks in their back pockets. Local government is, from all my encounters over the years, a pathetic old boys club. The only thing that saves us from it being more damaging is the limited powers they have.

The Court's statement that "states could enact their own laws regarding uses," is a carrot thrown to a dog with no teeth. What do you think is more likely? a) States enact tough anti-eminent domain laws, potentially handcuffing their "redevelopment" efforts or, b) State legislators sit on their hands and let the Supreme Court ruling stand?