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They Will Take Your Home

June 23, 2005

The New York Times reported this morning that “[a] divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that local governments may seize people’s homes and businesses against their will for private development….As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.”

“‘Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random,’ [Justice Sandra Day] O’Connor wrote. ‘The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.'”

Text of the Fifth Amendment, which was in question in today’s ruling: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Ah, The U.S. Supreme Court, making it easier for money to make money. Is today’s ruling the “due process of law” that the Constitution speaks of, a process that has now in fact deprived a group of CT citizens of their life (one couple had lived in their home for over 50 years), liberty (stripped of their right to resist seizure of their private property), and their property? Can a riverfront hotel, health club, and offices really be deemed “public use”?

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2 Comments
  1. Fehlleistungen permalink
    June 24, 2005 1:52 PM

    From today’s New York Times:

    “Who among us can say she already makes the most productive or attractive use of her property?” Justice O’Connor asked.

    She added: “The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall or any farm with a factory.”

    Both Justice O’Connor and Justice Thomas, who also filed his own dissent, said the decision’s burden would fall on the less powerful and wealthy.

    “The government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more,” Justice O’Connor said. “The founders cannot have intended this perverse result.”

  2. June 28, 2005 4:48 PM

    Just heard a piece on this this noon on Democracy Now..
    Eminent Domain Ruling: Justices Uphold Taking Property for Private Development

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