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Thu, Jun. 23rd, 2005, 01:15 pm
the only non-shallow thing on gay_boys today

A historic ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court allows public confiscation of property for any private use.

Sheesh, this is creepy. When I agree with Antonin Scalia and William Rehnquist, the apocalypse must indeed be nigh.

Honestly, I can't say that this ruling affects me directly and personally (considering I own no property subject to eminent domain, as far as I know), but the sheer idea of local and state governments being allowed to seize whatever land they want as the lackeys of private investors is a terrifying concept, especially as it applies to conservation law.

It's an interesting read, for anyone who's bored.

(Yes, my work is done for the day. What a scam.)

Thu, Jun. 23rd, 2005 05:30 pm (UTC)

Heh, wow, that's definitely not going to bode well with a lot of people. Corruption is going to run rampant and we're all going to face the end, very, very, shortly.

Fri, Jun. 24th, 2005 03:12 am (UTC)

*shrug* Doom prophecy is almost too comforting sometimes. But corruption? Yes.

Thu, Jun. 23rd, 2005 06:13 pm (UTC)

My reaction: mixed.

It's easy to look at this decision as a victory of big corporate interests over small homeowners.

But really, it's about the distribution of influence over development between municipal governments and the courts (by giving the courts a power to restrain the cities' use of expropriation powers, as the minority would have done.)

Historically, preserving strong expropriation powers for cities has been a good way of protecting communities against the harshness of capitalism. Land expropriation has tended to allow community development products, at the expense of larger corporate projects. And municipal government might be the last level of government that reflects real democracy--decisions do tend to be made by the people, for the people.

The American courts, on the other hand, I'm not so sure about. I don't get the same sense that they would resist corporate influence. If this one case, where the results seem harsh, means that the power stays in the hands of cities rather than the courts, then maybe it's a good thing.

I am sort of being a devil's advocate here, though.

Fri, Jun. 24th, 2005 03:22 am (UTC)

Land expropriation has tended to allow community development products, at the expense of larger corporate projects.

As the only bona fide lawyer on my Friends list, you've got the weight of knowledge of legal precedent on your shoulders. I wasn't aware that this was the case; living in Boston, I've heard stories about the use of eminent domain to destroy the West End in Boston (there is only one original building remaining — the rest is office buildings and hospitals) and to spearhead the Big Dig. Such bulldozings have rarely benefitted the displaced, although the benefits have been substantial.

I didn't read it initially as a power struggle between the cities and the courts, honestly. It smacks more strongly of the granting of powers that did not exist before the ruling. I mean, the Fifth Amendment never says anything about public claiming for private use.

Politics in America right now, more than any other time in my (short) lifespan, are very corporate in nature, and I can't see how a machine that is already greasing the wheels of profit for large interests will use this explicit power to respect the "little guy".

Does that make sense?

Fri, Jun. 24th, 2005 03:29 am (UTC)

it is very much a power struggle between the cities and the courts. every city government in the country had their fingers crossed waiting for this ruling. granting powers that didn't exist before the ruling--not exactly. city and state governments have been defining public use more and more broadly and using eminent domain for economic development for years, and no one has stopped them. granting powers that don't exist under the Constitution? yeah, seems that way. the majority opinion relied almost entirely on precedent rather than constitutional arguments, and admitted abandoning the literal "public use" standard for a broader "public purpose." take a look at thomas's dissent, which actually takes a close look at the wording of the amendment (and even uses latin!)

Fri, Jun. 24th, 2005 03:26 am (UTC)

And you just love Ruth Bader Ginsburg, anyhow.

Thu, Jun. 23rd, 2005 10:29 pm (UTC)

This borders on totalitarianism. Is that even legal?

Fri, Jun. 24th, 2005 03:11 am (UTC)

Eminent domain has been a legal practice since the passage of the Fifth Amendment in 1791, and in theory it's a very useful thing. How else are you going to build roads, or put down schools, or install the infrastructure we all rely on? It can be a very powerful tool for the public good.

And the argument can even be made that expropriation for private interests can serve the public good. (For example, land expropriated for a factory or an office building might revitalize an area's economy and create jobs.) What this decision does, however, is give local authorities, which can most certainly be bribed and pressured, the undisputed final word on forced property sales. It's really got the potential to be abused.

Fri, Jun. 24th, 2005 10:28 pm (UTC)

Okay; I understand it better now.

Fri, Jun. 24th, 2005 12:01 am (UTC)

We're weaving such a nice handbasket with these laws, aren't we?

Fri, Jun. 24th, 2005 03:05 am (UTC)

Well, perhaps. But someone has to carry it.

Fri, Jun. 24th, 2005 01:08 am (UTC)

wow, a (vaguely) normal person is actually interested in the case that has taken over my life for the past several months...

Fri, Jun. 24th, 2005 03:04 am (UTC)

At the time when you were posting on it I was a bit distracted. Eminent domain actually really fascinates me because it seems to run so counter to everything that private property stands for, and I'm just a bit chagrined that it's now that much easier for the average person to get assraped by wealthy interests (corporate [and/]or academic) rather than having to be conciliated, which to me seems the ethical thing to do.

Fri, Jun. 24th, 2005 03:19 am (UTC)

it fascinates me too, mainly because i'm a colossal nerd.