Saturday, August 06, 2005
  Look, Up In The Sky
"When Pigs fly!" is a phrase often used to refer to things that are unlikely to ever take place. Well, look out below because Left-wing, liberal ideologue Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) is on the right side, and the Right side, of a critical issue.

Back in June the Supreme Court rewrote the Constitution (again) by legislating from the bench (again) that private property rights are secondary to potential tax revenues. In Kelo v. City of New London, they declared that the government could take the property of one citizen and give it to another private citizen or developer if it would generate more revenue for that government. So much for a "government FOR the people."

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states, "No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

The Fourteenth Amendment reads, "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Note the phrase "public use" above. Is taking private land to build a highway "public use"? Yes, it benefits the public. Is taking private land to build a hospital, post office, or other building "public use"? Yes. Is a City giving it's governmental power of eminent domain to the private New London Development Corporation in order to take an entire residential neighborhood of Fort Trumbull, Connecticut for private development "public use"? Sorry, I don't see it. Where is the public benefit? I certainly see the benefit to the NLDC, but I hardly think that should have been a consideration.

Neither does Rep. Waters. "Government should be in the business of protecting private property," she said to National Review's Rich Lowry, "Private property is precious in America." Well, it should be, and on this I agree wholeheartedly with her.
Lowry continues, "Waters is a longtime scourge of eminent domain. A few years ago the L.A. Unified School District wanted to take a park and private homes in the community of South Park to build a new school (which at least is a legitimate public use). Waters made it clear that if eminent domain were used, the residents, many of them low-income, would appeal it property by property, holding up the process for years. "We backed them off," she says. If anyone is trying to grab your home, you could do much worse than have Waters — whose public mood seemingly fluctuates between outraged and irate — on your side.
She is acting on a crucial insight — the right to property is the most important check on governmental power and abuse, especially for the poor and vulnerable. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People filed an amicus brief in the Kelo case arguing against expanding eminent domain and recalling that it was often used in 1960s "urban renewal" projects to dispossess black property owners — "'urban renewal' was often referred to as 'Negro removal.'" Indeed, the naked logic of the Kelo decision is to take property from working- and middle-class people who aren't in a position to build big-box stores, casinos or condos and give it to wealthier interests, who can create more tax revenue and inherently have more political influence. Poor property owners usually don't have the wherewithal to fight back. "I think they'll just be run over," Waters says.
Alabama just adopted a law prohibiting the state and its localities from taking property for private development. Delaware has tightened its law, and even Connecticut — home to the dispute that spawned Kelo, when homes were to be taken for a Pfizer development — is suspending its use of eminent domain while it considers whether it has taken it too far (quick answer: "yes"). Congress is considering denying federal funds to support any projects that involve taking property for private use, and Waters is supporting two of the Republican-sponsored Kelo backlash bills. "I'm working with people I've never worked with before," she says.
...the Court has done the property-rights cause an unintentional favor by highlighting takings for private use that have been going on for a long time without much public notice.
The Court has also got Maxine Waters's back up, which is never advisable."
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Location: alexandria, Virginia, United States

Retired from the US Air Force after more than 20 years of service. Now working as a contractor for various government agencies.

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