Thursday, June 23, 2005

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Strip Malls

The Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision (with O'Connor as a dissenter, even), that cities and municipalities may take private land for commercial development, with Justice Stevens saying local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community. I have a lot of trouble with this. I am a strong believer in the right to own property, and when I see a government of any size taking one person's property against their wishes when that person is not in default of a loan or something similar, I shudder. This tells me that I do not own my own property, rather I get to stay there until someone with more money and a more appealing plan on what to do with that land comes along and sweet talks the people in power. This was a bad decision.
Prior to this decision, municipalities could only use the takings clause for a reason related to a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas, the article notes. Now, the city can take your property to open a Wal-Mart, to increase the tax base and create more money for the city, in the meantime, running you out of your home, and destroying all the memories that you and your family built in that little piece of the American Dream. Bad Decision. Bad.

Bookworm also recently posted on this same issue. Her comments are here.


Sam said...

I like how "having a higher tax base" is a public use. We can kick people for the express purpose that they're too poor to deserve to live there. At least the state probably gave the homeowners top-dollar for their houses.! said...

yeah, in my bitter little heart, i tend to seriously doubt that top dollar will be paid. unfortunately, they probably have to take what they can get because option b is to face rising property taxes that cause them to lose their homes because of tax debt. enter sam, future public interest tax attorney (hey, i had to give it a shot!)

Michelle said...

I was discussing this with someone from San Fransisco the other day. I could not believe that this could happen in America in this day and age. Zoning laws in Oz are much different to yours,onus is certainly on the home buyer, but environmental planning laws are set years ahead, so instances like this particualr one rarely happen.

particleman said...

yeah, i heard about this too. pretty damn infuriating. but could you belive that scalia, our favorite racist/sexist/general schmuck sided with the homeowners?! and old rehnquist too?