Supreme Court rules against property rights

Another horrendous ruling from the Supreme Court. After some residents understandably challenged their local city’s efforts to seize their homes by force to give to private developers, the Supreme Court ruled on the side of the government and the developers. And yes, it was another 5-4 ruling. Justice Stevens, writing for the majority, said:

It is not for the courts to oversee the choice of the boundary line nor to sit in review on the size of a particular project area…This Court’s authority…extends only to determining whether the City’s proposed condemnations are for a "public use" within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment to the Federal Constitution. Because over a century of our case law interpreting that provision dictates an affirmativeanswer to that question, we may not grant petitioners the relief that they seek.

So, apparently giving money to private developers for their own profit is a "public use." This is what you get when you rely on interpretations of interpretations instead of just reading the Constitution. Kennedy, Souter, Ginsberg, and Breyer concurred with his opinion.

O’Connor wrote the dissenting opinion, expressing a refreshing respect for property rights:

Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded–i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public–in the process. To reason, as the Court does, that the incidental public benefits resulting from the subsequent ordinary use of private property render economic development takings "for public use" is to wash out any distinction between private and public use of property–and thereby effectively to delete the words "for public use" from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment…When interpreting the Constitution, we begin with the unremarkable presumptionthat every word in the document has independent meaning, "that no word was unnecessarily used, or needlessly added." Wright v. United States, 302 U. S. 583, 588 (1938). In keeping with that presumption, we have read the Fifth Amendment’s language to impose two distinct conditions on the exercise of eminent domain: "the taking must be for a ‘public use’ and ‘just compensation’ must be paid to the owner." Brown v. Legal Foundation of Wash., 538 U. S. 216, 231-232 (2003)…Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result.

She quoted Justice Chase:

"An ACT of the Legislature (for I cannot call it a law) contrary to the great first principles of the social compact, cannot be considered a rightful exercise of legislative authority… A few instances will suffice to explain what I mean… [A] law that takes property from A. and gives it to B: It is against all reason and justice, for a people to entrust a Legislature with SUCH powers; and, therefore, it cannot be presumed that they have done it." Calder v. Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 388 (1798) (emphasis deleted).

Finally, someone willing to go back at least to the founding principles of the country instead of just piddling with semantics! Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas dissented as well, and in Thomas’s dissent he takes the "interpretations of interpretations" trend to task:

The Court relies almost exclusively on this Court’s prior cases to derive today’s far-reaching, and dangerous, result. See ante, at 8-12. But the principles this Court should employ to dispose of this case are found in the Public Use Clause itself, not in Justice Peckham’s high opinion of reclamation laws, see supra, at 11. When faced with a clash of constitutional principle and a line of unreasoned cases wholly divorced from the text, history, and structure of our founding document, we should not hesitate to resolve the tension in favor of the Constitution’s original meaning.

You can read the entirety of the court’s opinion, including dissents, here.

I really don’t know what’s up with the Supreme court. Although, after the thrashing they gave our rights when ruling on the medical marijuana issue, I suspect they’re just high.

Flag saving, freedom burning

The US House has just, in Calley-esque fashion, voted to save the flag by destroying the freedom it stands for. In other words, they voted to propose a Constitutional amendment banning flag desecration. If it passes the Senate by a two-thirds majority, it will become a proposed amendment to our Constitution. Three-fourths of the states (38 of them, out of 50) would then have to ratify it in order for this to become part of our Constitution.

I don’t really think it’s going to pass. The House has already passed this five times before, and there are some politicians who see the nonsense in this, such as Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY) who is quoted in the article as saying, "The reason our flag is different is because it stands for burning the flag. The Constitution this week is being nibbled to death by small men with press secretaries."

But then, there’s the shameful and disgusting comments of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA): "Ask the men and women who stood on top of the Trade Center. Ask them and they will tell you: pass this amendment." What a sleazebag! How dare he capitalize on that terrible tragedy to push forward his jingoistic agenda?

Comedian Tim Slagle does (or, at least, did) a routine about flag burning. He talks about how the flag only means something because it’s backed up by the Bill of Rights. He then sets the Bill of Rights on fire, and the American flag spontaneously combusts. He’s received tons of complaints and has even been banned from several venues because he burned the flag.

The thing is, I don’t think he ever received a single complaint about him burning the Bill of Rights.

I think that’s very telling.

Elected Libertarian actually cutting spending!

While Republican-majority and even Republican-tight city councils and commissioner boards make excuses for not cutting the size of government as they’ve promised, an elected Libertarian, Lenoir (NC) City Councilman T.J. Rohr, is working to cut $1 million from the Lenoir city budget. In one article, it was reported:

Most of the discussion focused on budget recommendations by Councilman T.J. Rohr.

Rohr submitted an extensive list of suggested changes to the budget which include eliminating funding for the Streetscape plan and the downtown development. His recommendations also include eliminating 12 or 13 city employees from various departments.

His plan would trim nearly $1 million from the city manager’s proposed $21.5 million budget.

Councilwoman Betty Buss said that his recommendations need to be explored.

"I like some of them. Some of them I don’t," said Buss. "We have to study it."

But the thing is, they wouldn’t be studying it if it weren’t for Rohr.

There’s a second article on the subject here.

Holocaust survivor leaving – he’s “seen this before”

If you’re not worried about the increasing attack on our liberty by our own government even as it purports to be creating liberty elsewhere in the world, then you might want to consider the words of someone who saw his own country descend into Nazism:

So I heard the moving van pull up this morning. When I got home this evening I happened to spy my neighbor (he’s like 85 years old – I don’t know exactly, but he’s old, talks and moves very slowly) standing on the sidewalk next to the van. I walked over and shook his hand, and we started talking. I asked him where he was moving, and he said, "Back to Germany."

I had been stationed in Germany for two years while in the military, so I lit up, and commented about how beautiful the country was, and inquired if he was going back because he missed it.

"No," he answered me. "I’m going back because I’ve seen this before." He then commenced to explain that when he was a kid, he watched with his family in fear as Hitler’s government committed atrocity after atrocity, and no one was willing to say anything. He said the news refused to question the government, and the ones who did were not in the newspaper business much longer.

Wow…depressingly similar to what’s been going on here. With the USA PATRIOT Act, the "enemy combatant" order, and other atrocities on our liberties (the "Real ID Act" passed the Senate 100-0!) being accepted, or at least not challenged, by the people and the media staying mostly silent on these issues, it’s hard not to be alarmed. Fortunately, there are some new media outlets beginning to challenge the government, such as Free Talk Live and Free Market News. The article continues:

I gotta tell you – it was chilling. I let him talk, and the whole time, my gut was churning, like I had mutated butterflies in my stomach. When he was finished, he shook my hand, gripping it really hard, until his knuckles turned white and he was shaking. He looked me in the eyes, hard, and said, "I will pray for your family and your country." He let go of my hand and hobbled away.

You can read the entire article here.