Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Remember Kelo v. New London?

In 2005, the US Supreme Court ruled on the eminent domain case, Kelo v. New London, Connecticut, and its ruling was more than incorrect. It was unconstitutional in many aspects, but the SCOTUS screwed up the decision by misreading/misinterpreting the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause. The Fifth Amendment reads (and the key clause is bolded):

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 offense 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.

In Kelo, the high court misinterpreted the Takings Clause. In their view "public use" equated to "public good." In this case, it was a referral to the taxes the state of Connecticut would reap from Pfizer building a plant on the site in question. It's now being reported that Pfizer isn't interested in that site any longer, and they're not going to build that plant, after all:

The private homes New London, Conn., took through eminent domain from Suzette Kelo and others, are torn down now, but Pfizer has just announced that it closing up shop at the research facility that led to the condemnation.

Leading drugmakers Pfizer and Wyeth have merged, and as a result, are trimming some jobs. That includes axing the 1,400 jobs at their sparkling new research & development facility in New London, and moving some across the river to Groton.

To lure those jobs to New London a decade ago, the local government promised to demolish the older residential neighborhood adjacent to the land Pfizer was buying for next-to-nothing. Suzette Kelo fought the taking to the Supreme Court, and lost, as five justices said this redvelopment met the constitutional hurdle of “public use.”

Ms. Kelo and many others lost their home, but the land is still undeveloped. Now Pfizer is abandoning the city altogether.

The court acted, to quote the president, "stupidly," in finding in favor of New London, CT. They believed the town's assertion that the land these homes sat on was more valuable to a developer moving in that would create jobs and increase the state's tax coffers. Now Pfizer is saying "no thanks" for their efforts. The people are displaced, and the land is undeveloped. Let this be a further lesson in the overreach of government.

They could have let the people stay in their homes, and have a steady stream of revenues coming in from those people paying property taxes on homes that had been there for decades. Instead, they got greedy, and saw only dollar signs when Pfizer expressed an interest in moving into the state. This is a further example of the redistribution theory that liberals love to embrace. Take from the people to give to big business or special interests in the hopes the tax money will enrich them even more.

Well, Pfizer didn't bite, and won't now. They're not interested.

So who has egg on their face in this matter? Well, Connecticut does for taking this all the way to the Supreme Court, but the high court certainly has egg on its face for its gross misconduct in handing down this farcical decision. Two issues drove the Founders to create this nation that they were essentially denied in England -- the freedom to practice their religion and the freedom to own property. This is a salient fact that can't be denied, and, indeed, history has a concurrent record of these desires.

The Supreme Court has waged a war on both issues. They consistently attack religion in America on asinine arguments (are you reading this, Michael Newdow?) and in Kelo they assaulted our right to own private property. In fact, the backlash from this decision caused 42 states to enact legislation prohibiting the very seizure the Supreme Court ruled as constitutional.

We can pat ourselves on the back that the states in question moved quickly to quash the Supreme Court's misguided decision, but it doesn't change the fact the high court was dead wrong in its decision. The Constitution is explicit in many areas of the law, and no so much in others. In this case, it was clear and five justices -- Stevens, Ginsberg, Breyer, Kennedy, and Souter (the USUAL suspects, we call them) -- screwed the pooch on this decision. Now they're the ones who have to suck up this decision by Pfizer.

Hopefully in the coming years, the Roberts Court will reverse this disgusting decision, and preserve our rights to own property, and that property won't be taken without the requisite preconditions enumerated in the Constitution.

Publius II


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