Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Supreme Court decided today that the government can just seize your property and give it to another private party if the resulting projects serve the public good.

I have some time now to post preliminary thoughts, but I likely won't finish since I have a show on the air tonight that I'm Tape ADing. I'll try to finish my reflections tomorrow afternoon.

Sandra Day O'Connor's dissenting opinion included the following gems:
"The specter of condemnation hangs over all property," she wrote. "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."
"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private property, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," she wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.
"As for the victims," Justice O'Connor went on, "the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result."

Which seems pretty obvious to me.

As much as I hate to play this card, I can't think of anything more anti-American than the seizure of private property by the state for the expressed purpose of giving that property to another private party. The majority idea is that since it's for the community good it is acceptable, but this decision is antithetical to the individual right to property that is perhaps American law's fundamental assumption. As much as I hate to agree with Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, they do respect individual rights above the interest of the community (see: their views on corporate behavior, the environment, etc).

Most of my thoughts are little more than extended thoughts on the nuances of the O'Connor excerpt above.

Here's a start:
The state can't seize property strictly for the good of the receiving party, but the loosely-defined 'public good' could easily include the increased tax-revenues from a commerical enterprise. Which is to say, my house is infinitely less valuable than moving in, say, some sleazy corporate owner on the same property, and as a result the government can just kick me off and install whatever owner they desire... the definition of 'public good' being determined not by the public being evicted, but by the parties who select the new owners. Isn't that inherently a conflict of interest? That's without accounting for the influence of money in politics (which, Freakonomics aside, has a much more direct influence on a local scale than on a national one, and a much bigger influence in terms of governmental action as opposed to electability).

I'm out of time... lots of show to prep... but here's one more worthwhile tidbit I discovered today:
Douglas Wolk has a great piece in The Believer on the brilliance of The Fall's Peel Sessions [all now available on The Complete Peel Sessions 1978–2004], with a special focusss-ah on Mark E. Smith's ramshackle lyrical surrealismmmm-uh.


No comments: