Freedom Tip of the Day

The press has basically ignored this story since the whole ten-commandments-in-the-courthouse ruling happened to hit the same week, but I'll fill you in. (Sidenote: Good luck reading the ten commandments in your own house if the government is forcing you to sell your home to a private developer. Forget silly wall plaques for a minute and ponder that one.)

Here's the story: In New London, Connecticut, a pharmaceutical company planned a new facility that would likely bring some needed jobs to the town. In order to capitalize on possible economic growth, a private planning company started buying up land. Fifteen (give or take) individuals, fond of their properties, did not sell. The private developer initiated the help of the local government to forcibly take the property under "eminent domain" (the government can intervene and buy property from the less-than-willing in order to put it to public use, usually a hospital or highway or the redevelopment of a blighted neighborhood). They went all the way to the Supreme Court, where the 5-4 vote on June 23rd, 2005 gave the go-ahead to bulldoze the dissenting families' (non-blighted) houses. Here's the hitch: this is a private developer. The law specifically states that it is not permissible for one private entity to be forced to sell their property to another private entity. However, they presented the idea that their strip mall/office complex & marina would make more tax money than taxing the people who currently lived there. Ta-da! Public use. If A can make more money than B, A wins. Screw the fact that B has lived in her house for eighty years. A can raze it & replace it with a hot dog stand for the "public".

So the Supreme Court has basically said that any rich jerk who can make a buck off your grandma's house has permission to call in government help to force her to sell. Luckily, Kentucky is one of the few states that only allows the "eminent domain" argument if the area is blighted (beyond repair/hazardous). Here's my freedom-protection tip: never buy a home in a state where anyone with more money than you can help themselves to your house. Bonus tip: Don't count on Supreme Court Justices Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg or Breyer to protect your rights unless you're a corporation. And if this ruling REALLY annoys you, check out for the greatest revenge tactic ever. I SO wish this was my idea.


JCo said…
Oh yeah Vander Molen...get me all riled up this morning girl! That case makes me so mad. Government knows best right! Ugh.
vander said…
I know. You have to wonder about people's characters sometimes. And when the two choices you're down to are 'evil' and 'stupid', it doesn't bode well for the future of a democratic nation. (The redcoats are back! The redcoats are back!)

Someone with some political knowledge fill me in; I read that the House voted to nullify the Supreme Court ruling...what happens to the Steal-Your-Grandma's-House rule now? Anybody know?
Pete said…
Wow, VM, I hadn't heard this story yet. That sucks big time. A highway, I understand, but your normal urban sprawl crap, well can't they just find another darn place where people are willing to sell their houses?
Sara Anne said…
So I have to admit upfront, this is probably the nerdiest post you'll get, but here's a response to your question about Kelo v. City of New London. (If you google Kelo, you can read the entire Supreme Court case which is actually really fascinating).

The only way to technically overrule a Supreme Court decision is by passing a Constitutional Amendment. So Congress doesn't actually overrule the Supreme Court's decision but rather limits its effect.

However, passing a constitutional amendment is extremely difficult. Both the house and senate must approve the amendment by a 2/3 vote and then each of the states must ratify the amendment.

States and Congress are currently trying to pass statutes in order to limit Kelo's effect. For instance, states are redefining the meaning of public use in order to limit its' meaning to PUBLIC use and not economic benefit. These statutes can be challenged as unconstitutional and so new cases could come before the Supreme Court regarding public use issues. Then the decision would be before the Supreme Court again and they could change what they decided in Kelo.

It is very rare however, for the Supreme Court to reverse a prior decision. Exceptions are Plessy v. Ferguson which was overruled by Brown v. Board of Education)

This is just a tip of the iceberg but there are a ton of articles about this topic if you're interested. The following link is to an article discussing what various states are doing to limit Kelo.

Sorry this is so long. I warned you I'm a nerd!
LDB said…
Wow! Hadn't heard the story and I'm glad that I've been enlightened...

Oh, and Mabs, you're not a're an aspiring lawyer that knows her stuff! You'll kick butt in the legal arena one day!

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