Today the Supreme Court decided that local governments can seize homes and businesses of private citizens and turn them over to private developers.
In a case with nationwide implications, the court ruled, 5 to 4, against a group of homeowners in New London, Conn., who have resisted the city's plans to demolish their working-class homes near the Thames River to make way for an office building, riverfront hotel and other commercial activities.
The majority held that, just as government has the constitutional power of eminent domain to acquire private property to clear slums or to build roads, bridges, airports and other facilities to benefit the public, it can sometimes do so for private developers if the latters' projects also serve a public good.
Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens said, "Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted governmental function, and there is no principled way of distinguishing it from the other public purposes the court has recognized." The court's ruling is certain to be studied from coast to coast, since similar conflicts between owners of homes and small businesses and development-minded officials have arisen in other locales.
Justice O'Connor dissented along with Clarence Thomas (Wow! he got one right):
"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."
And this is not the first time that this has happened. back in November 2000,In Missisippi, 27 acres belonging to a black family, the Archies, was threatened with eminent domain to make a automobile plant for Nissan. The state lost it's case however; had this case been put before the Miss. Supreme Court under the current decision, the Archies would be out on thier behinds with no recourse.
It is hard to argue against O'Connor. So long as the state can say there is some public good, you can have your property taken. How did a majority of justices miss this? They may not want people in California to use Marijuana for medical reasons but with a decision like this it is clear they are smoking something themselves.