Takings and Liberties

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Always remember that property rights are a fundamental civil right, and that a government that will trample on those rights can be expected to be just as cavalier about disregarding other rights.

 

Long ago, William Blackstone wrote that “the law of the land … postpone[s] even public necessity to the sacred and inviolable rights of private property.” 1 Commentaries on the Laws of England 134-135 (1765) (hereinafter Blackstone). The Framers embodied that principle in the Constitution, allowing the government to take property not for “public necessity,” but instead for “public use.” Amdt. 5. Defying this understanding, the Court replaces the Public Use Clause with a ” ‘[P]ublic [P]urpose’ ” Clause, ante, at 9-10 (or perhaps the “Diverse and Always Evolving Needs of Society” Clause, ante, at 8 (capitalization added)), a restriction that is satisfied, the Court instructs, so long as the purpose is “legitimate” and the means “not irrational,” ante, at 17 (internal quotation marks omitted). This deferential shift in phraseology enables the Court to hold, against all common sense, that a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation, is for a “public use.”

     I cannot agree. If such “economic development” takings are for a “public use,” any taking is, and the Court has erased the Public Use Clause from our Constitution, as Justice O’Connor powerfully argues in dissent. Ante, at 1-2, 8-13. I do not believe that this Court can eliminate liberties expressly enumerated in the Constitution and therefore join her dissenting opinion. Regrettably, however, the Court’s error runs deeper than this. Today’s decision is simply the latest in a string of our cases construing the Public Use Clause to be a virtual nullity, without the slightest nod to its original meaning. In my view, the Public Use Clause, originally understood, is a meaningful limit on the government’s eminent domain power. Our cases have strayed from the Clause’s original meaning, and I would reconsider them.

Justice Clarence Thomas, dissent, Kelo

 

 

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7 Comments

  1. I know some will disagree with this, but I don’t care.

    The Philosophy of Liberty:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muHg86Mys7I

    THE PHILOSOPHY OF LIBERTY

    The prologue to The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible by Ken Schoolland:

    My philosophy is based on the principle of self-ownership. You own your life. To deny this is to imply that another person has a higher claim on your life than you do. No other person, or group of persons, owns your life nor do you own the lives of others. You exist in time: future, present, and past. This is manifest in life, liberty, and the product of your life and liberty. The exercise of choices over life and liberty is your prosperity. To lose your life is to lose your future. To lose your liberty is to lose your present. And to lose the product of your life and liberty is to lose the portion of your past that produced it.

    A product of your life and liberty is your property. Property is the fruit of your labor, the product of your time, energy, and talents. It is that part of nature that you turn to valuable use. And it is the property of others that is given to you by voluntary exchange and mutual consent. Two people who exchange property voluntarily are both better off or they wouldn’t do it. Only they may rightfully make that decision for themselves.

    At times some people use force or fraud to take from others without willful, voluntary consent. Normally, the initiation of force to take life is murder, to take liberty is slavery, and to take property is theft. It is the same whether these actions are done by one person acting alone, by the many acting against a few, or even by officials with fine hats and fancy titles.

    You have the right to protect your own life, liberty, and justly acquired property from the forceful aggression of others. So you may rightfully ask others to help protect you. But you do not have a right to initiate force against the life, liberty, or property of others. Thus, you have no right to designate some person to initiate force against others on your behalf.

    You have a right to seek leaders for yourself, but would have no right to impose rulers on others. No matter how officials are selected, they are only human beings and they have no rights or claims that are higher than those of any other human beings. Regardless of the imaginative labels for their behavior or the numbers of people encouraging them, officials have no right to murder, to enslave, or to steal. You cannot give them any rights that you do not have yourself.

    Since you own your life, you are responsible for your life. You do not rent your life from others who demand your obedience. Nor are you a slave to others who demand your sacrifice.

    You choose your own goals based on your own values. Success and failure are both the necessary incentives to learn and to grow.

    Your action on behalf of others, or their action on behalf of you, is only virtuous when it is derived from voluntary, mutual consent. For virtue can only exist when there is free choice.

    This is the basis of a truly free society. It is not only the most practical and humanitarian foundation for human action; it is also the most ethical.

    Problems that arise from the initiation of force by government have a solution. The solution is for people of the world to stop asking officials to initiate force on their behalf. Evil does not arise only from evil people, but also from good people who tolerate the initiation of force as a means to their own ends. In this manner, good people have empowered evil throughout history.

    Having confidence in a free society is to focus on the process of discovery in the marketplace of values rather than to focus on some imposed vision or goal. Using governmental force to impose a vision on others is intellectual sloth and typically results in unintended, perverse consequences. Achieving a free society requires courage to think, to talk, and to act – especially when it is easier to do nothing.

  2. The Fifth Amendment or the takings clause: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”. “for public use”. Private corporations are not ” public use”. In addition any person can be a private corporation, an LLC. What part of “public use” does the Court not read or understand?

  3. Maybe Trump should threaten to use the takings clause to turn the property of high profile pro-illegal immigration Democrats into refugee resettlement developments.

  4. Ernst Shreiber: Brilliant! It’s sort of happening. Most of the invaders wind up in liberal hell holes plummeting toward fiscal and moral bankruptcy. That’s why they live in gated communities and have walls around their mansions.

    America-hating communists should be hanged.

    Dear Mary, I can’t peg the date when activist courts (legislating from the bench) beamed themselves to one of the nearly-infinite number of alternate, judicial dimensions wherein they are empowered to ignore the Constitution and popularly legislated acts/laws, and cite in their (fairy tale) opinions (not truth per Plato) such diverse precedential sources as the – we did not elect – UN and Dr. Seuss.

    BTW. Does any of you think you live in a free country?

  5. Kelo v. City of New London is predicated on “condemnation”. Government for the people, by the people and of the people is now government against the people.

    “This deferential shift in phraseology enables the Court to hold, against all common sense, that a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation, is for a “public use.””
    Communism takes the people’s potential and sells it back to them as a greater good.
    Emanations and penumbras may not violate the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God. Nature’s God has given man a Seventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not steal”. God’s perfect Justice must apply to all people forever. The administrative government may not steal from the people, not their goods nor their potential.

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