WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses -- even against their will -- for private economic development.
"The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including -- but by no means limited to -- new jobs and increased tax revenue," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has been a key swing vote on many cases before the court, issued a stinging dissent. She argued that cities should not have unlimited authority to uproot families, even if they are provided compensation, simply to accommodate wealthy developers.
The lower courts had been divided on the issue, with many allowing a taking only if it eliminates blight.
"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," 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."
She was joined in her opinion by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, as well as Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
This is, of course, an unbelievable decision, but it is what has been happening to us, disguised as asset forfeiture and carried out under the drug war, for years.
Basically, if local governments find your piece of real estate to be of monetary value to them then they can take it from you and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it.
This ruling is a classic example of
"I told you if they take away my rights they will eventually take away yours" and I think all reformers and others who care about this issue should seize this opportunity and point out the paralells.
Two weeks ago the SC ruled that we have no rights to our bodies and now they have ruled that we have no private property rights.
I see a big opportunity to bring over former enemies and turn them into allies.
Making the SC's eminent domain ruling unenforcable in Alabama will be part of my election platform in the gubernatorial race that is looming on the horizon.