The Daily Pulse: A Red (White, and Blue) Herring

Given the time constraints, I'm trying a new format for The Daily Pulse.  I am going to go with a couple of issues of significant interest, as measured by the frequency in editorial pages, and link to other articles.

Today, two issues. First, the eminent domain case.  I really wonder whether the people screaming about it read the opinion.  It simply did not permit municipalities to take one person's property away to give to anybody that would raise more taxes.  It was part of a state-statute authorized and well-researched project to breathe a little life into a dying city.  As soon as somebody starts talking about anything less than that, you know they are pushing a B.S. agenda.

Second, the flag amendment.  It is nationalism disguised as patriotism.  But more important, it is just a huge red herring.  Here are a whole bunch of editorials griping one way or another about it, while our men and women die in Iraq, and the FACT that the Bush Administration lied about the war gets short shrift.  Cheney recently said the insurgency is in its "last throes," and the deaths keep escalating.  And we're talking about a piece of cloth.  My prefered reference to this, from now on, will be the Red, White and Blue Herring.  Feel free to use it.  I would encourage everybody to take this wonderful opportunity to write letters, introducing with that meme to attack every bit of horror the Administration wants us to ignore.

Norwich (Connecticut) Bulletin

Beware of land grabs

Defenders of property rights got punched in the stomach Thursday when the Supreme Court delivered its long-awaited Kelo v. New London decision. But the decision should spur renewed interest -- and participation -- in local government.

The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution is pretty clear in telling us what government cannot do. It says, "... nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."

What part of "public use" is vague or open to interpretation? Public "use" is not "betterment" or "best interests of all." ...

This decision has the potential to make outright bribery of officeholders an attractive option for someone seeking to use eminent domain. Pay off officials and be granted the go-ahead.

Community officials right now should be discussing how to deal with eminent domain -- and voters should be paying attention.

This has the potential to affect any homeowner or business owner in the state.
Ordinances must be structured to deal -- in advance -- with eminent domain. It cannot be applied selectively -- nor can one size fit all. And it must be an application of last resort.

This is a municipal-election year. Rarely is an issue as vital to communities as eminent domain been a topic of discussion.

This should cause voters to pay attention, get involved, even run for office.
When voter turnout in the 25 percent range is the norm for municipal elections, and 40 percent of office holders are unopposed, the system is not working well. And that is the case in Eastern Connecticut.

The Kelo decision is wrongheaded, but there just might be a silver lining in this dark cloud. That would be the acknowledgment of the people that taking part in government is no less than acting in self-interest.

Think about this decision. And get involved.

Norwich (Connecticut) Bulletin

Liberals OK'd stealing of land

The liberal -- and I include Justice Anthony Kennedy -- members of the Supreme Court have given their blessing to the theft of private property for the benefit of robber barons and some nebulous greater good in direct contravention of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.

Eminent domain no longer requires that the taking of private property must be for a compelling reason and be for public use. It simply means that Joe Politician's deep-pocket friends have made a deal with Joe Politician. ...



Herald Tribune (Sarasota, Florida)

Define eminent domain

In all the fireworks Thursday over the Supreme Court's eminent-domain decision, one critical sentence shouldn't be overlooked:

"We emphasize that nothing in our opinion precludes any state from placing further restrictions on its exercise of the takings power." ...

Ousting owners from their homes and businesses, against their will, is a drastic government action. It should only be undertaken when a vital, clearly defined public purpose is served and the owners can be justly compensated. Some economic development projects meet those guidelines, but the issue is so disputed that it landed before the Supreme Court.

Examining a Connecticut city's use of eminent domain on behalf of a major revitalization plan, the high court narrowly upheld the policy, determining that New London's plan "unquestionably serves a public purpose," (as required by the Fifth Amendment). The court majority appeared especially swayed by the goal of the plan: relieving the community's high unemployment and economic distress. The properties in question were not blighted, but New London based its action on Connecticut law that authorizes takings for the promotion of economic development. The court majority declined to "second guess" the city council's decisions. ...

The Supreme Court's deep split on this issue isn't surprising. The case is a collision of private vs. public interests, and they are hard to reconcile. The adage, "A man's home is his castle," is sacrosanct in America, yet without eminent domain the nation would lack many of its highways, schools, railroads, water systems, parks, pipelines, low-income housing and other vital public infrastructure. ...

The common good is an expanding concept, and economic development has gradually -- and controversially -- come to be included in that sphere. Thursday's court decision solidifies its constitutionality for eminent-domain purposes, but -- as Justice John Paul Stevens' majority opinion stressed -- states remain free to set tougher standards.

They should do so, without delay. Lax eminent-domain policies favor moneyed interests over average citizens. States must counter this effect with laws that set high standards for "public benefit" and clearly define what that phrase means. Furthermore, if there is voter consensus against takings of non-blighted property, state laws should reflect it. ...

We support the high court's conclusion that economic development is sometimes so necessary that it warrants the exercising of eminent-domain powers. But when the law fails to clearly define the standards that should be met, it invites the nightmare scenario that Justice O'Connor warned of in her dissent.

It's time for legislatures to straighten out the loose and wobbly language of eminent-domain laws. If politicians resist, voters can do some "just compensation" of their own -- at the ballot box.

The Chronicle (Centralia, Washington)

Baird for flag burn ban in Constitution; Cantwell opposes it

We strongly support the right of free speech as guaranteed in the First Amendment to our U.S. Constitution, but burning or otherwise desecrating Old Glory as a sign of disrespect and protest to our country and its policies is over the line.
Freedom of speech does not confer the right to do or say anything. There are some justifiable limits, such as on the purveying of pornography, and they should include a ban on burning our flag.

The U.S. flag is particularly sacred because it is the utmost symbol of our country and the huge sacrifices the men and women of our armed forces have made in the more than two centuries of this country's existence to preserve the freedoms and protect the security of the American people. To burn it is an ultimate insult and show of disrespect to our country, all the good for which it stands, and to those who have sacrificed for it in war.

Further, banning flag burning in no way prevents other constitutionally protected political protest against our country's policies. Such a ban does not take away the freedom to protest -- it simply limits it by saying it can't be done by desecrating the flag. We'll bet that an overwhelming number of our military veterans who fought for our freedoms support protection of the symbol of those freedoms and their sacrifices from disrespect. The freedoms they fought and died for include the right to protest, but not to desecrate our flag. ...

Duluth (Minnesota) News Tribune

Flag-desecration ban would dilute freedom of speech

The U.S. House of Representatives last week approved a constitutional amendment that would give Congress the power to ban desecration of the American flag. Again.

It was the fifth time the House has passed a flag-protection amendment. Each time the Senate has stopped the measure.

The Senate again should turn back this ill-conceived idea that would stifle political expression protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech. Just as odious, if passed by Congress and ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures, it would in effect take away a right. The rest of the Bill of Rights grantsrights. (Only the 18th amendment -- prohibition -- took away a right. It was rescinded in 1933.) ...

But courts have correctly ruled that the act is protected free speech. U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., put it well in floor debate last week when, speaking in opposition to the ban, he said, "This amendment elevates a symbol of freedom over freedom itself."

King County Journal (Bellevue, Washington)

Our View: Flag vote tramples on First Amendment

...Burning or defiling the American flag is repugnant behavior. It's an expression of contempt for the nation and the values the flag has come to symbolize. Which is why it ought to remain lawful. As Justice William Brennan once wrote: ``If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.'' ...

It's also hard to understand why burning the American flag would be a criminal offense, but not burning a copy of the U.S. Constitution or the Declaration of Independence.

Our most serious objection to the House's action is that it would limit individual freedom rather than expand it. Consider other constitutional amendments: granting women the right to vote; abolishing slavery; securing due process. A flag-burning amendment isn't in that league.

Finally, do we really want to join Cuba, China and North Korea as a nation that punishes its citizens for desecrating the national flag? ...

Other editorials of interest:

Bluefield (West Virginia) Daily Telegram

Procrastination isn't helping anyone

Napa Valley (California) Register

Dishonest to teach evolution as fact

Herald Tribune (Sarasota, Florida)

Due process overdue

Tags: Pulse (all tags)



What goes for Connecticut
Doesn't go for Maryland. The issue at
stake is whether or not paying tax
on a segment of land qualifies you for ownership
of that land.

A "well researched" plan that is funded by
oh, I don't know - how about, say people who
can afford a slick presentation .. will play
differently, in different states, with different
city councils.

The Local Boards power has been vastly
improved by this decision, and the influence
corporations hold over government is not
even questioned in this day and age.

It is simply, a mirror of a popular Chinese
land policy that has been in place
since their great leap backward -
it is fundamentally a decision that
states the "state has the best say as
to what will 'revitalize' a community"
which includes the building of strip malls
and marinas.  

America was founded on the principles of
tolerance, and independence. The government
dictacted what religion you had
to believe in, and could seize your land
without question. They could seize your
wife, under Prima Noctae, and screw her
on your wedding night, with a well researched
genetic plan that would benefit your
offspring with royal DNA injected
into your family line.

All you had to do was let them do it.
The residents of this small community
in the case in point, should have a right to oppose building up some frontage for a big
Pharma, if their land is pretty (which it was)
and not worth being condemned (which it wasn't).

The tying of the dollar to the chinese
currency will continue to destroy tax
revenue all across the board, Wal Mart
will put anyone out of business
that tries to revitalize any community
by selling +anything+ they sell at
a lower price --

The bottom line: destruction of personal
rights is bad for business, whether its
the destruction of the sovereignty
of our currency (whose domain is to track
our economy, not china's) , local
competition (to serve the local community,
not china's) or local ownership ( to serve
citizens, not wealthy individuals and corporations seeking to buy out land to do with as they please.)

In other states, this will have a dire effect.
In the one case in point, it can be argued
that a marina would look nice. So what.
Before this ruling, the local board had
to follow the rules. Now , whether its
"State statute" mandated or not, the
local boards all around america will
grab that cash with both hands and make a stash..

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-06-26 08:19AM | 0 recs
America was founded
As a tax cut by force of arms.
by jcjcjc 2005-06-26 08:25PM | 0 recs
Re: America was founded
The army was built from people
who were seeking to worship god
and not necessarily the vicar
of christ - as the king of england.
by turnerbroadcasting 2005-06-27 01:30AM | 0 recs
Re: America was founded
As a whole collection of gripes against England, the "against" being the common denominator.
by dhonig 2005-06-27 04:07AM | 0 recs
Let's look at the Revolution honestly
The top and middle tiers of the Revolution were interested in a tax cut.  The bottom tier was interested in the opening of Indian lands to the west.  Revolutions are almost always economic outcries.  

The American Revolution is a classic example of history being more about the present than the past.

No one wants to teach their kids that the American Revolution was a cynical grab by the rich to get tax cuts, paid for by Indian lands given to the poor.  So, we teach our kids all this bullshit about religion and freedom.

Ironically, the strongly religious component of American culture doesn't emerge until the Great Emmigration.  When the Great Emmigration mixed with the religious fervor lingering from the pre-Civil War antislavery movement, you got the style of religiosity that is familiar today in America.

Before then America drifted religiously, with most folks taking a relatively humanistic view of religion, even if they were believers.

by jcjcjc 2005-06-28 06:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's look at the Revolution honestly
What about the Second Great Awakening?
by dhonig 2005-06-28 07:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's look at the Revolution honestly
Within reason, sure, I'll buy that argument.  

Within the current argument about the root of the Revolution, it frames the religious views of the Founding Fathers as contrary to the general religious values of other Americans.

by jcjcjc 2005-06-28 05:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Dishonest to teach evolution as fact
Okay.. It's time to tear this asshole apart.

But the problem is, evolution is not a fact, it is a belief. If we go back to teaching science, we will have to stop teaching evolution....

Thus, evolution is merely an inference; a presupposition. It is not available for empirical demonstration, otherwise known as "scientific proof." Evolution cannot be proven.

Evolution is a scientific theory, so no it cannot be proven (that would make it a law) but it can be supported. Let me also mention two other theories: cell and atomic theory.  The existence of atoms, electrons, protons, all of it is just a theory. Yet we are able to build atomic weapons using this theory, so to those people say "evolution is just a theory" they are correct, but that doesn't in anyway destroy its credibility.  Now back to Evolution, evolution has been demonstrated time and again, antibiotic resitanct bacteria is just one example (so to say its not available for empirical observation is crap), and let's not forget an extensive fossil record that supports evolution, admittedly with a few holes.
Evolution is not set in stone.  It is a theory, one that is amenable should new information come to light that does not support parts of it (the theory of evolution today is not the exact theory published in On the Origin of the Species) ,just like any other scientific theory.  To say that evolution shouldn't be taught as science is ridiculous and demonstrates a complete ignorance for not only evolution but for science itself.
by schwompa 2005-06-26 09:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Dishonest to teach evolution as fact
You are correct,it is a theory.
All science is, I suppose in some sense,
a set of beliefs. For example, I believe
that F = g m1 m2/r^2 ~ mg will be the approximate
force of a baseball in my hand, dropping down.
But its a theory, not a law. nevertheless
we use the term 'law' to describe some
theories that have strong basis such
as the law of gravity - sic.

All of heaven really does rejoice when one sinner is saved. Your strongest christians are the ones you'll find out there being the best people they can be. The weakest christians are the ones
who feel that professing their faith defines
them as a part of a group. It doesn't.
Faith is a power you must use to follow
it to a place where you're not always so
comfortable with yourself. Where the lines
are not always black and white, and where
you can question your choice of lifestyle,
your ethics, and your morals.  Any movement
that espouses sollipsism is always in
some sense commercial - but true self realization
will always be a cottage industry composed
of yourself, your family and others very
close to you - helping you on your way.
It was never supposed to be comfortable.
The christian lobbying thats going on
is just to give children an edge against
an increasingly aggressive secularist
worldview that we must recognize,
has brought us Abu Graib and George W Bush.

History shows us that there are stories
that that small groups
of people will use to justify their status and
build their place in society in defiance
of the status quo. For right, and for wrong.

When a murderer, covered in the blood
of his wife, drives a white bronco down
the road and the glove doesn't fit -
he goes innocent. With a million dollar
smile. Or an emasculated man, who shaved
off his nose to look like a fairy character-
whose penis was, according to one of his
victims - "striped like a barber's pole"
gets a kind visit from his jurors in an indian
casino after he gets acquited. His million
dollar legal team had ideas about what
to say to the media also.

All too often we make the assumption that
children grow stronger in an environment
where they can "make more of their own
decisions". But it is all too apparent
that those decisions can be made in
toxic environments if we, as a society,
abandon principles by which truthful
operation of the society must rest.
Justice for example, should not be for sale.

Tolerance was always balanced against
strong beliefs and principles that everyone

The story that money or status buys you
an all-access pass is fading, its edges
are fraying - we are beginning to wake
up from a long sleep.

And in that awakening, we will return
to where our journey began - and truly know
it for the first time.

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-06-26 10:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Dishonest to teach evolution as fact
I agree totally.  The editorial is correct in the idea that we cannot PROVE what happened millions of years ago.  But to dismiss a scientific theory because it deals with history is more than naive. There are many fields with less controversy (i am thinking of earth and planetary sciences) that are based almost entirely on what happened in the past. By this guy's logic, any science that happened before his lifetime cannot be 'fact.'  

I work in a biology lab, and we practice evolution of proteins by what you could call 'un-natural' selection.  We change them how we want them.

Anyone who denies the theory of evolution should be ready to dismiss all science.  Adaptation by natural selection is evident in countless places in the world today.  I think of the classic fruitfly experiments that happen worldwide.  

When he said:
"It is time to set aside enforced orthodoxy in science teaching, and to be willing to adjust our "theories" where the facts require."  
I wanted to scream..!  What do  you think that we scientists do all day?  Make up facts to fit our theories?  Please... we are not George Bush and Co...

Also: "If we're going to teach science, we can't teach that life came from non-living matter by time and chance."
Ok...EVOLUTION DOES NOT PURPORT TO EXPLAIN THE ORIGIN OF LIFE!!!!!  Yes other scientists do investigate biogenesis, but the theory of evolution does not.

I just cant believe that articles like this get printed... free speech at its best... urghhh...

by phemfrog 2005-06-27 06:43AM | 0 recs
When was the last time anyone burned a flag?
To the best of my knowledge, the last time anyone burned an American flag was about 1971 or 1972. The wingnuts want to pass a Constitutional amendment so five or ten years from now they can pass a flag burning statute to make something that hasn't happened in over thirty years a crime.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-26 09:51AM | 0 recs
Re: When was the last time anyone burned a flag?
Flag Burning is a recent thing too.  TX v. Johnson, the case that said fal burning was free speech, did not happen until the 80s (Johnson was protesting the policies of the Reagen administration). Protestors of the Iraq War have also been known to burn flags.  But Flag burning, like everything this republican congress takes up, is really a non-issue.  People care about health care, jobs, the economy, soldiers dying in Iraq.
by schwompa 2005-06-26 12:05PM | 0 recs
Re: When was the last time anyone burned a flag?
It is definitely a non-issue. I forgot all about the one or two flag burning cases during the Reagan administration. That was still over twenty years ago. I don't recall anyone burning flags during either the Bush or Clinton administrations.

Almost everything the wingnuts do is a distraction. Flag burning, Medicare Viagra, Schiavo, etc., etc. Everything that isn't a distraction is outright harmful. Privatization, Medicare and prescription drugs, bankruptcy, the energy bill, etc., etc.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-26 12:14PM | 0 recs
Re: When was the last time anyone burned a flag?
It's a non-issue, except for the fact that it has become a patriotic pissing contest. In a post 9-11 world, winning these pissing contests is a vital component of the Republican Party's response to the "War on Terror".

It's all about who can piss red-white-and-blue the most. Nevermind that the bill is pointless and in fact contradicts the very ideals that this country was founded on - specifically that you can politically express yourself any way you want, including by burning a flag.

In the South, we do something similar with the ole' Southern Cross as well, but that's a different issue.

I love my country, but this is a dumb idea.

by wayward 2005-06-27 04:00PM | 0 recs
Blight is in the eye of the beholder
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Costco and Walmart versus home owners. Why is it OK to take a working man's home and give it to Walmart?

Here is a primer on Redevelopment law, Blight Makes Right:

All a city need do to justify creation or expansion of a redevelopment area is to declare it "blighted".

This is easily done. State law is so vague that most anything has been designated as "blight". Parkland, new residential areas, professional baseball stadiums, oil fields, shopping centers, orange groves, open desert and dry riverbeds have all been designated as "blight" for redevelopment purposes.

To make a finding of blight, a consultant is hired to conduct a study. New redevelopment areas are largely driven by city staff, who choose the consultant with the approval of the city council. Consultants know their job is not to determine if there is blight, but to declare blighted whatever community conditions may be.

Blight has been discovered in some of California's most affluent cities. Indian Wells, a guard-gated community with an average $210,000 household income, has two separate redevelopment areas.

To eliminate alleged blight, a redevelopment agency, once created, has four extraordinary powers held by no other government authority:

(1.) Tax Increment: A redevelopment agency has the exclusive use of all increases in property tax revenues ("tax increment") generated in its designated project areas.

(2.) Bonded Debt: An agency has the power to sell bonds secured against future tax increment, and may do so without voter approval.

(3.) Business Subsidies: An agency has the power to give public money directly to developers and other private businesses in the form of cash grants, tax rebates, free land or public improvements.

(4.) Eminent Domain: An agency has expanded powers to condemn private property, not just for public use, but to transfer to other private owners.

These four powers represent an enormous expansion of government intrusion into our traditional system of private property and free enterprise.

This is a problem all over California. City Councils and developers can find blight anywhere they look. A Blight on Urban Renewal: Are Bay Area cities abusing eminent domain as a redevelopment tool?

But the most aggressively redevelopment-happy city in the region (if not the state) has to be San Jose. In 2002, the city declared a full third of its area "blighted" to create one massive merged redevelopment zone. In the process, city officials defined blight in ways Kafka would appreciate.

In Naglee Park, a historic neighborhood consisting mostly of Victorians and Craftsman single-family homes near downtown, instances of blight included "wet leaves" on the tennis court at Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren's home, visible garbage cans sitting on the curb on trash day and architectural iron work on windows of restored Victorians categorized as security bars.

Outraged residents had a field day with the issue and wrote "bliku" protest poems that were published in the San Jose Mercury-News.

More details from the Coalition for Redevelopment Reform, "Blight claims in San Jose don't ring true":

Something just didn't sound right when San Jose declared one-third of itself blighted.

One point the two lawyers hammer on was the agency's failure to identify even one unsafe or unhealthy building, a key requirement for blight under state law.

It's a reasonable requirement. Otherwise, redevelopment agencies could cite a broken window here, a cracked sidewalk there, overcrowding around the block and broken toilets half a mile away. Add them all up and presto! Suddenly a whole neighborhood's blighted, on paper anyway.

I wondered if San Jose's redevelopment agency was up to such a scam to justify its existence, empire building and fat salaries, so I called spokeswoman Peggy Flynn.

I asked for the address of one building found to be blighted according to state law.

"What do you mean?"

Long Beach is trying to rein in their Redevelopment Agency:

For years, LB's non-elected (Mayor nominated, Council approved) Redevelopment Agency Board has wielded major powers, including eminent domain, in areas it decreed to be blighted. Such decisions created taxpayer impacts even outside Redevelopment areas...since once an area is part of a Redevelopment project area, property value increases (which produce increased property taxes) are diverted from their usual course and instead cover debt incurred by the Redevelopment Agency to fund new development.

LB's Redevelopment Agency board has put nearly half of Long Beach (including much of downtown) into various Redevelopment project areas. Whether this has helped eliminate blight, or worsened matters, is being increasingly debated. Critics of Redevelopment call it corporate welfare for wealthy developers; supporters call it a tool to replace blight with renewal.

Even if the City Council makes redevelopment decisions, they are frequently more responsive to developers than home owners:

Long Beach is one of only three cities in California that has delegated all of its Redevelopment Agency powers to a separate, appointed Agency Board. In all of the other 385 cities in California with active Redevelopment Agencies, the City Council - a city's elected representatives - serves as the Agency Board and makes the decisions regarding redevelopment in the cities they represent.

Homeowners are not organized to fight back against redevelopment at either the city or the state level. Homeowners do not have the financial resources to fight redevelopment lobbyists at the state legislature and cannot match the local political muscle at the local level, where contracts are awarded to friends and relatives of City Council members.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-26 10:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Blight is in the eye of the beholder
I agree with everything you said. However, everything you said is really related to local issues, and the local (whether state, county, or municipality) legislatures' response to developers, big business, and bribes, rather than the people.  

The question before the Court was a much more limited question of Constitutionality.

I've sort of beaten this to death over on Kos, but the bottom line is this particular case was a pretty face on an ugly pig- the REAL agenda is property over people, and the desire of a cadre of Republicans to gut environmental laws, zoning laws, and anything else that MIGHT interfere with profits.  They think it is unconstitutional to tell a land owner he can't have a pig farm next to a day care center- it's an infringement, they argue, on his property rights.

That is the real fight, and we should not be sucked in by the pretty face.  Look behind it, the tail remains curly.

by dhonig 2005-06-26 11:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Blight is in the eye of the beholder
I disagree. These are two different battles. Thomas and the wingnuts believe that all environmental laws constitute a taking. That is a different issue from the question of whether or not a shopping center or a ballpark is a public use.

Thomas, Scalia, O'Connor and Rhenquist were right on this one. The Supreme Court has the responsibility to narrowly define how an appropriate public use is defined. It is nearly impossible for homeowners to win this battle in a legislative forum, which is precisely where courts have an obligation to intervene.

With this decision there is absolutely no purpose that will not qualify as a public use. I do not see how the public use issue is any more than a tangential relation to the Constitutional takings argument.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-26 11:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Blight is in the eye of the beholder
I am one of the people beating this to death over at D Kos. I find the cavalier way in which people in the left side of the blogsphere are treating this issue disturbing. Were this abortion, I doubt the response would be the same.

For the record, I support abortion, I support affirmative action, and I support a lot of the left leaning decisions of the Court, but this decision was an abdication of their responsibility in this matter.

Essentially, as I kept repeating at D Kos to Armando, saying that this is precedent no more answers the question whether this is bad law than does saying Bowers v. Hardwick was precedent. As the Lawrence case showed, Bowers may have been precedent- but the S Ct decided it was bad law. Clearly precedent is not enough to make a determination.  The S Ct doesn't touch on issues unless there is a conflict in the law or some ambiguity that they are trying to answer.

I believe there answer here is wrong because it ignores the harm of their decision. And, harm of governmental action is not something that the S Ct ignores. In Brown v. Board, and in multiple other cases, indeed, harm and policy effects are a BIG part of the Court's decision. Why is that different in this case? Saying that it was the law of the land before hand, as I say begs the question- why is this the law of the land?

What is the principled distinction here? It remains in all cases a question of liberty. Except you don't happen to have a problem with this particular lose of liberty. I and others do.

I have no problem with the application of eminent domain as it was intended to be used. But, this broadening over  the years has had horrible results. It was meant for public use- and they have broaden that to mean public use even if it is by private concerns.  It hurts low income and minority communities. It allows perfectly viable
communities here in Brooklyn to be under assault by wealthy developers. This may not bother you, but when it's my neighbors- it bothers me. I felt like they had a chance to leave a market for what a truly progressive society can do.

The Court had other options here other than choosing an overly broad ruling that allows carte blanche action by local communities. This is at the expense of a minority. Our society is a liberal democracy that protects the rights of the minority. At the very least, their job required that the justices do more than say the limits of the law is whatever the communities determines is the limits of the law. I believe they will regret this decision as much as if they had sided with the fanatics on the right in the voice of Scalia. Clearly, the Constitution in exile folks are wrong too. The difference is that their wrong doesn't make this decision right. There were other options. They could have sent it back to find a definition so that it could be litigated and determined. They could have assigned a definition of the word blight or public good beyond saying community standard. In short,they could have protected the rights of the minority while preserving eminent domain.

The fact that they did not is due to their fears, and the fears that a lot of people, of what the crazies like Scalia would do with their ruling. My issue with this is that they are sacrificing good law for what may happen on a slippery slope. This was one of the other issues- we have prior history to show that this is where the crazies may go  (Scalia and Co). But, that is not a principled decision based on policy or any protection of minority interests.

And, it is rather insulting to keep hearing that the minority interest will be protected by the same communities that forced this action in the first place. What magic sprinkle dust are we expecting to occur that will prevent this harm to the minority group.  If there is this belief now that communities can be expected to protect the minority, then why make rules as they have in the death penalty cases, redistricting cases, or abortion or affirmative action or gay rights or any of the other areas in which they expressly realized there were Constitutional policy reasons to protect the minority from the arbitrariness (ie, undefined terms such as blight) of the majority.

by bruh21 2005-06-26 05:08PM | 0 recs
I've been beating it to death here as well
It sounds like you are having more trouble at dkos than we are here. There was broad consensus that this decision was a Supreme Misunderstanding last week, but this Read Green and Black character has been going against the grain with his Tricknology of the Right diary.

Until today I wasn't aware there was even any dispute about how wrong this decision was. The last thing we want to do is let conservatives brand this as a "liberal" decision.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-26 06:22PM | 0 recs
Re: I've been beating it to death here as well
Well it's one of those subjects that I don't think falls along the lines of liberal v conservative. Although I think people want to do it that way and I certainly expect such branding. The real dichotomy is, although I hate to say it, is libertarian v. non libertarian. I hate to say it because I am not libertarian. But with this sort of thing, I guess I have a strange bed fellow.  I guess I am not really a libertarian- I just believe that unfettered action is a dangerous thing. I am actually okay with public domain as a concept and a necessity, but not public domain without limits. Nothing good can come of this.
by bruh21 2005-06-26 08:56PM | 0 recs
Re: I've been beating it to death here as well
sorry, emminent domain- not public domain (went over to intellectual property law in my brain there for a second)
by bruh21 2005-06-26 08:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Blight is in the eye of the beholder
I agree - the decision has far reaching

For example. as long as the democrats remain
mute, it implicates them as a party of
special interests. Some big retailer
somewhere is lobbying HARD behind the scenes.

Again, their MO is going to be

  1. Paid posters in Blogs.
  2. Payoffs to the senators and congressmen
  - tied to it, are "other" issues
  - keep the focus on the existing model

The existing model is the poison - the
lobbyists are absolutely desperate to try
to convince everyone that the net is just
a bunch of nutjobs.

The truth is, the net is a far more coherent
force in this battle right now - and its
definitely shaping up against anyone
who's aligned with this recent, very
close supreme court decision.

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-06-27 01:36AM | 0 recs
What you posted is irrelavent
You shouldn't have bothered.  Why?

Because the new Supreme Court ruling makes it so that the city doesn't even have to go through the motions of calling an area "blighted".  They just have to say, gee, a Walmart would be cool on your property, gimmie.

by Geotpf 2005-06-27 09:17AM | 0 recs
No excuse for this bad decision
"A well-researched project to breathe a little life into a dying city."  Give me a break!
That is exactly the argument Wal-Mart promisses in every town it takes over.  

The takings clause is very important and was meant to support the public good and has worked that way - to support environmental protections, public projects, etc.  This decision is a huge step in the WRONG direction - giving corporations (via local governments and legislatures) the power to use the takings clause in their favor.  

I have been reading a lot about this to figure out how/why the liberals on the court are on the wrong side of this one.  The long entries in this blog and others provide only weak justifications and sad excuses.  The liberals on the court are very wrong here - legally and pragmatically.

by Cohee 2005-06-26 12:45PM | 0 recs
Conservatives really won this case
The discussion between liberals over whether the city's attempt to create jobs should trump the poor homeowners is probably a bigger victory for the right than the actual case would've been.  Honig is right, private property over society as a whole is a mantra of the right.  Labor and environmental protections, as well as civil and human rights laws  all infringe on private property in order to protect society from overreach by property owners.
by Read Black N Green 2005-06-26 01:02PM | 0 recs
You and dhonig are confusing separate issues
I don't even see the connection between how public use is defined and how governmental takings is defined.

This was in no way shape or form a conservative victory. George Will is speaking the coservative party line in his editorial, Court Rules for Disproportionate Power:

Liberalism triumphed Thursday. Government became radically unlimited in seizing the very kinds of private property that should guarantee individuals a sphere of autonomy against government.

What is interesting about Will's editorial is that he makes the case for judicial activism to rein in an out of control legislature. This decision was a triumph for corporatism and Walmart, but it is contrary to the beliefs of either social conservatives or ideological conservatives.

We had a recent case in California, that also involved mixed issues, Cottonwood Church Center v. Cypress where the city wanted to seize church land for redevelopment.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-26 02:13PM | 0 recs
Re: You and dhonig are confusing separate issues
And not one major thread devoted to it,
here on MyDD - except my own diary.

Which, BTW, would have dissappeared from
the list had it not won 60-something

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-06-27 01:38AM | 0 recs
Conservatives on redevelopment
Visit Townhall for a review of Abuse of Power by Steven Greenhut

How local government officials can use "eminent domain" to take YOUR property -- and give it to rich developers
And how they're doing it to your fellow citizens every day, all across America!

Reviewing the same book, The Claremont Institute says What A Revolting Development

And Michelle Malkin has a roundup of conservative blogs, Home Matters: The Day After (click through for links):

The (right side of the) blogosphere's response to yesterday's SCOTUS ruling on Kelo v. New London has been stunning. And heartening. Eminent domain isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks "blogswarm." But the fierce reaction to the decision shows that core economic liberty issues can still unite disparate factions of the right (South Park cons, neocons, Schiavo-cons, whatever-cons) who have been fretting about a conservative crack-up.

My wonk-ish hope is that more attention will be paid to bogus community redevelopment/urban blight eradication/tax increment-financing schemes masquerading as "public use" projects. In the New London case, the private corporate beneficiary was Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant. In Seattle, it was Nordstrom (reg reqd). Across the country, it's money-losing multiplexes and luxury stadium deals. In all cases, the losers are taxpayers, homeowners, and small businesses.

N.Z. Bear has created a Kelo topic page to track blog posts related to the ruling.

The Wall Street Journal weighs in on the Supreme Court's reverse Robin Hoods.

George Will has an eloquent column today decrying the ruling. His credibility is undermined by his silence on government land grabs for his beloved baseball stadiums.

But Will's credibility is not nearly as eroded as that of New York Times liberals, who either have nothing to say about the case or who support the decision to strip " a few small property owners" of their dreams--an outcome they might undoubtedly decry if not for their company's own vested interested in protecting such rights-trampling boondoggles.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-26 02:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Conservatives on redevelopment
The reason why the NY Times is silent on this issue outside of the op eds which suport it is because the NY Times is guilty of the exact same offense here in NY. At least as I remember it, they had the city condemn shop owners property for the creation of the new NY Times Bldg. So, they come to this with unclean hands. Nothing speaks louder than money, for the NY Times, and especially in NYC. I am not saying that they aren't a good better by the way, but you should realize their bias is there for a reason on this issue.
by bruh21 2005-06-26 05:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Conservatives on redevelopment
Yes, they did.  This was the subject of a very good 60 minutes piece aired a while back.  The NY Times has a serious conflict of interest here.
by bellarose 2005-06-26 06:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Conservatives on redevelopment
you're absolutely right. good point.
by turnerbroadcasting 2005-06-27 01:39AM | 0 recs
I have read the opinion...
>>It simply did not permit municipalities to take one person's property away to give to anybody that would raise more taxes.  

Careful with your wording. It is true that the majority specifically ruled that this question wasn't in front of the court, and that such a scenario may well be problematic if a future case is brought.

BUT, and this is the critical point, the sweeping way the majority deferred to the municipality here only means that this case will be the perfect precedent to APPROVE such a tax scheme when it does come up. After all, how hard will it be to disguise that goal -- if the only requirement is that somebody puts an "economic development" plan into a powerpoint presentation?...

Put another way, this case is to your tax scenario what Wickard was for the California pot ruling. It almost certainly traps the future court into approving it...or at least creates enormous pressure to...

The court had a chance here to paint a fairly bright line -- saying that a substantial finding of "blight" (actual social harm) is as far as we should let "public use" go...Hell, it would have even been better if the court had "manufactured" a finding of blight here, to limit the scope of the precedent...  Instead, the court set a NEW precedent, ruling that emminent domain can in effect be invoked merely to exchange one ORDINARY USE for another...

Another thing... The politically motivated liberals have got to stop seeing this issue as, "conservatives support property rights; therefore I'm supposed to oppose them"... It is an absolute affront to natural rights philosophy to deny the importance property rights played in our framers' understanding of basic liberty...

It's not about valuing "property over people"; it's about valuing "the individual over abusive unchecked government"...philosophically at least, we should see this issue the same way we see "choice"...

We should not cede this classical ground to the wingnuts... It should be part of OUR soul, imo...


by HKingsley 2005-06-27 04:42AM | 0 recs
Historical actions with eminent domain
During the growth period of the railroads they were given the right of eminent domain to create right-of-ways. Certainly a taking of private land for a private purpose.

It would be useful if someone could find the legal history on this and provide some prior case law perspective.

by rdf 2005-06-27 05:46AM | 0 recs
if we disagree, we haven't read the opinion?
Wow. that's an awfully bold statement. I've read two of the dissenting opinions, and i've read the fifth amendment which is what Kelo et al were basing their argument on. The problem is that there is a vast difference between "public use" in the Fifth and "public welfare/good/benefit" in the judgement. Certainly, there will always be someone or a group of someones who believe that they can make better use of your property than you can. So now all they have to do is propose tax benefits or possibility of more jobs, in order to strongarm you out of what is rightfully yours? I'm going to head this one off at the pass, because I can already see that someone out there is going to try to attack capitalism because of this case. This is not capitalism. This is cronyism. Capitalism would force the developers to go through market channels in order to acquire property for their plans, and it would in no way ever permit the type of bullying we are seeing in Kelo
by doinkicarus 2005-06-27 07:22AM | 0 recs
Old Glory's Defenders
If you want to stop the flag-burning amendment in its tracks, get the Dems to insist that Cross-burning be banned as well.  I'd love to see the Southern Republican who refused to cosign the anti-lynching legislation sdquirm on that on that one.

Also the public should wonder why Randy "Duke"     Cunnigham was chosen to sponsor the Amendment in the House.  Was it because of his history as a was hero, or to distract us from his much-pulicized  real estate scandal? An outline of said scandal, excerpted from the Guardian:

SAN DIEGO (AP) - U.S. Rep. Randy ``Duke'' Cunningham has a reputation for both brashness and emotion...

But he was nearly silent for almost two weeks after the story broke this month that he had sold his house for nearly $1.7 million to a campaign contributor and close friend - whose company was enjoying a rush of new business with the Pentagon.

...Although any prosecution would be difficult, the scandal has been front page news in Cunningham's wealthy northern San Diego County district and could threaten his 15-year congressional career...

Cunningham, 63, conceded Thursday in a written statement that he showed ``poor judgment'' in selling his home to longtime friend Mitchell Wade in November 2003.

Wade, the head of a small defense firm called MZM Inc., bought the home in the wealthy coastal community of Del Mar for $1.675 million. He then put the house back on the market and it sold for $975,000. His $700,000 loss amounted to a 60 percent drop in the home's value during a period when the average San Diego County home price increased 25 percent.

Around the same time, little-known MZM started making lists of the nation's most successful defense contractors. Its revenues tripled last year, according to the company Web site, and Wade described the growth as ``exponential.''...

...At the same time, Wade and his firm were giving increasing amounts of campaign cash. According to, Wade and MZM gave at least $35,000 to Cunningham and his and his political action committees since 2000.

Cunningham is a member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, both of which oversee the kind of classified intelligence work that Washington-based MZM does for the military. The congressman noted that he lacks authority to award contracts, though lawmakers can influence who gets them.

Cunningham said he had mentioned he might sell his house at the same time MZM was expanding in the San Diego area. MZM intended to use the house as an office and corporate housing until it could find a more secure site, Cunningham said.

Selling the Del Mar home helped Cunningham buy a $2.55 million seven-bath mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, which census data rank as the nation's wealthiest community of at least 1,000 households. Last week, a group of 25 protesters gathered at the end of his palm-lined driveway, shouting accusations that the congressman accepted bribes.

After The San Diego Union-Tribune broke the story June 12, the normally voluble Republican hid behind vague denials of wrongdoing, insisting he was an exemplary citizen who ``never even smoked a marijuana cigarette.''

``I would never put the interests of a friend or contractor above the interests of my country,'' he said.

On Thursday, Cunningham said there was also nothing improper about living while in Washington on Wade's yacht, the ``Duke-Stir,'' an apparent reference to Cunningham's nickname. Cunningham said that instead of rent, he has paid at least $13,000 to cover dock fees and other expenses at the Capital Yacht Club since April 2004.

Cunningham was one of the Vietnam War's most decorated pilots, shooting down five enemy planes. He retired as a Navy commander in 1987 and was elected to Congress three years later.

Federal authorities would have a tough time pursuing a case, according to legal experts. Under a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, to prove bribery prosecutors would have to show a clear and direct link between the home sale and anything Cunningham did in return. The mere appearance of impropriety isn't sufficient...

If he seeks a ninth term in 2006, however, Cunningham may be in for a fight.

``I would advise him to resign,'' said Cynthia Vicknair, a San Diego political consultant who works with Republicans. ``What the Republicans don't need is a primary in which they have a damaged candidate. Damaged is what he is right now.''

by Mudshark 2005-06-28 07:00PM | 0 recs


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