Read the update at the bottom
I posted this on FresBlog
, which I recently started posting to again. I thought it might interest anyone who reads this too...
Everyone has been talking about the latest ruling from the Supreme Court regarding eminent domain
. My concern with the Supreme Court's ruling is that they seem to be completely ignoring our nation's history. The framers of the Constitution by no means intended the fifth amendment to be interpreted in ways cities are doing so now. The latest instance in Connecticut
is actually nothing new. CBS had an article
on this very subject a year ago. The city of Lakewood, Ohio wanted to replace homes that aren't even in what could be considered "blighted" areas, in order to replace them with property which would bring more tax dollars. The transcript of Kelo vs. New London
reveals a judiciary sentiment that is scary and far-removed from the words of our founding fathers.
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states:
...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
The Supreme Court stated in their opinion
in Kelo vs. New London "Without exception, the court has defined that concept (public pupose) broadly, reflecting its longstanding policy of deference to legislative judgments as to what public needs justify the use of the takings power...The Court declines to second-guess the wisdom of the means the city has selected to effectuate its plan." This line of reasoning flies in the face of why the Constitution was ratified in the first place. The Constitution made sense to the 9 colonies that ratified it because it gave the federal government the power to protect against unjust actions of local governments. The "unalienable rights" that each man possesses to pursue life, liberty and property would be better protected under a central government.
James Madison argued in Federalist Paper #10
"The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it; the fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same party; and the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens..."
The "legislative judgments", of which the Supreme Court refered to in its opinion on the case of Kelo vs. New London, are made in smaller districts and are therefore more likely to be involved in "plans of oppression" as explained by Madison. Leaving the interpretation of "public purpose" to the local legislatures is a BAD move and, in my opinion, it is not consistant with the the reasoning of those who wrote and ratified the Constitution. To see that there is still some hope for the Supreme Court, read the dissenting comments
of Justice O'Connor which were joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist, Justice Scalia, and Justice Thomas.
So how does the Supreme Court's ruling effect Fresno?
This would allow the government to seize private property and hand it over to developers all over the country as well as here in downtown Fresno. Specifically it could affect Fresno's Armenian Town which developers have been interested in redeveloping in recent years. (KSEE-24)Here
is an example of what the city is interested in doing. Fresno Famous has an interview
with the vice president of Fresno's Downtown Association (FDA). Here is someone who is opposed to eminent domain but has the ability to take advantage of the opportunity and make a positive change. FDA has been attempting to revitalize downtown Fresno for quite some time, being in business since 1955. I found an online copy of their 2003 Annual Report
. Read it to learn more of FDA's vision. They know in order to beautify the area, some nicer businesses need to move in to entice regular shoppers to visit. That is something that the Supreme Courts new ruling could make a lot easier.
On the flip side you have Fresno's Redevelopment Agency (RDA) which will gladly take advantage of eminent domain. There business practices have already come under questioning from the Downtown Fresno Coalition (DFC).
Early in the fall the DFC sent a letter to City Council members raising questions about the RDA’s practices and financial status that should be investigated in the upcoming performance review or annual audit of the Agency. A recent Grand Jury report included criticisms of the RDA. Elsewhere in this newsletter is an article by Matt Maroot that suggests some of the questionable aspects of the RDA’s approach to development. The Fresno Bee’s December 2 article on the proposed Armenian Town development also illustrates why more public awareness of the RDA’s practices is needed. After spending $4.6 million to acquire the land for the Armenian Town development, the RDA will charge developers Richard Gunner and George Andros $636,000 for the land.
More citizens need to be asking why the RDA, which had its origins in a national initiative to provide our society with more affordable housing, has become deeply involved in the business of enriching a few developers at the taxpayers’ expense. (1000FriendsOfFresno)
Local congressmen were excited about the Supreme Court's decision. They can't wait to impede upon the rights of individuals in Fresno to own property. As James Madison turns over in his grave, the least we can do is vote for congressmen who openly oppose loose interpretations of eminent domain.Update 6/28: Captain's Quarters
posted this great information.
An investment group now seeks to build a hotel with a museum dedicated to documenting the decline of property rights in Weare, New Hampshire, the home of Supreme Court Justice David Souter. Actually, they want to build the hotel in place of the home of Supreme Court Justice David Souter:
Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel [address redacted -- CE] than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.
The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."
Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.
"This is not a prank" said Clements, "The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development."
People who want to see Justice Souter's land put to better use than single-family ownership can e-mail the city at this link. Tell them that you'd plan on spending a week in the town as tourists at the new hotel and museum complex.
How long will this go on before the Supreme Court reverses their decision?