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Kiss your property rights goodbye
Posted by: Dale Franks on Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision has ruled in Kelo v. New London that the government can condemn your property, take it, and then transfer it to another private party. The dissenters were Justice O'Connor, who wrote the dissent, and the usual suspects, i.e. Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia and Thomas.

In the case at hand, the city of New London, CT, wants to tear down a neighborhood, and redevelop it for "economic development" purposes, using the power of eminent domain.

You see, in 1998 Pfizer Pharmaceutical announced that it would build a huge research facility in the Fort Trumbull area. Evidently, the city fathers then began thinking, "Hey, if Pfizer comes in, we could rip out the surrounding residential areas, build a new park and marina, and sell the rest of it off after we rezoned it as commercial property. Pfizer could be the central hub of an exciting new business district. Man, imagine the tax money that would roll in then, huh? And sales taxes, as well as property taxes! Sounds like a plan!"

Despite the fact that the plan was, as Justice Thomas puts it, "suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation", Justice Stevens, in a sophistry of reason, argues for the majority that it's a taking for public use anyway:
Those who govern the City were not confronted with the need to remove blight in the Fort Trumbull area, but their determination that the area was sufficiently distressed to justify a program of economic rejuvenation is entitled to our deference. The City has carefully formulated an economic development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including—but by no means limited to—new jobs and increased tax revenue. As with other exercises in urban planning and development, the City is endeavoring to coordinate a variety of commercial, residential, and recreational uses of land, with the hope that they will form a whole greater than the sum of its parts. To effectuate this plan, the City has invoked a state statute that specifically authorizes the use of eminent domain to promote economic development. Given the comprehensive character of the plan, the thorough deliberation that preceded its adoption, and the limited scope of our review, it is appropriate for us, as it was in Berman, to resolve the challenges of the individual owners, not on a piecemeal basis, but rather in light of the entire plan. Because that plan unquestionably serves a public purpose, the takings challenged here satisfy the public use requirement of the Fifth Amendment.
So, the city had a plan. They thought about it and everything. So they should receive deference.
It is further argued that without a bright-line rule nothing would stop a city from transferring citizen A's property to citizen B for the sole reason that citizen B will put the property to a more productive use and thus pay more taxes. Such a one-to-one transfer of property, executed outside the confines of an integrated development plan, is not presented in this case. While such an unusual exercise of government power would certainly raise a suspicion that a private purpose was afoot, the hypothetical cases posited by petitioners can be confronted if and when they arise.18 They do not warrant the crafting of an artificial restriction on the concept of public use.
You see, they aren't taking property from the homeowners to sell it to a particular developer, which would be wrong. No, they don't yet know what private parties they are going to sell the land to, which is, like, totally different.
The disadvantages of a heightened form of review are especially pronounced in this type of case. Orderly implementation of a comprehensive redevelopment plan obviously requires that the legal rights of all interested parties be established before new construction can be commenced. A constitutional rule that required postponement of the judicial approval of every condemnation until the likelihood of success of the plan had been assured would unquestionably impose a significant impediment to the successful consummation of many such plans.
Besides, the the city claims that there'll be new jobs and more property tax revenues, so there's a valid "public use" element to economic redevelopment, even if all of the primary beneficiaries will be private entities. Because, after all, you don't want to make the "public use" definition, too narrow. If you did, people couldn't have the property confiscated by the state for hardly any reason. And then where'll we be? I ask you!

So, if you have a home like one of the Kelo petitioners, where you were born, and where you have lived all your life, then you'd better hope the government doesn't think Walmart or Pfizer could put it to better use. Because if the city wants it, it's theirs.

Divider

Justice O'Connor wrote the dissent, and put it very succinctly:
Over two centuries ago, just after the Bill of Rights was ratified, Justice Chase wrote:
"An act of the Legislature (for I cannot call it a law) contrary to the great first principles of the social compact, cannot be considered a rightful exercise of legislative authority ... . A few instances will suffice to explain what I mean... . [A] law that takes property from A. and gives it to B: It is against all reason and justice, for a people to entrust a Legislature with such powers; and, therefore, it cannot be presumed that they have done it." Calder v. Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 388 (1798) (emphasis deleted).
Today the Court abandons this long-held, basic limitation on government power. Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded—i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public—in the process. To reason, as the Court does, that the incidental public benefits resulting from the subsequent ordinary use of private property render economic development takings "for public use" is to wash out any distinction between private and public use of property—and thereby effectively to delete the words "for public use" from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Accordingly I respectfully dissent.
You can't put it more clearly than Justice O'Connor does. Without a bright-line rule against using the government's power of eminent domain to effectuate a property transfer between private parties, then property rights are dead.

Well, that's not completely true. Bit of an overreaction, really. because, as Justice O'Connor also points out, some people will retain their property rights.
Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. 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, 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. "[T]hat alone is a just government," wrote James Madison, "which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own."
See, property rights aren't dead if you're rich and powerful enough to sway a local government into confiscating some else's property for you.

(H/T: Reader Jeff Domangue, who must have emailed me the second the decision came down.)
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
I only wish I could be more surprised. Abuse of eminent domain just keeps growing. It’s quite commonplace in some cities for public projects to just condem any land they want and don’t want to pay a fair price for. This is just the next logical step.
 
Written By: Skorj
URL: http://
Solid analysis, Dale. This is gonna be a huge issue when Bush gets to make his first pick. Anthony Kennedy is rapidly building a legacy as Reagan’s biggest mistake.
 
Written By: Jim Rose
URL: http://www.jim-rose.com/
On this issue, I’m four-square with you guys. This is not right.
 
Written By: David in AK
URL: http://
This is just not right. How do we fight it? Lobby state legislatures to pass laws limiting eminent domain? Congress? Or do we have to wait until the composition of SCOTUS changes? I’m not much of an activist, but this just can’t be allowed to stand.
 
Written By: bob
URL: http://
I don’t know how you fight it. Camp out on your property with guns and defend it to the death?

Great article, spreading it far and wide.
 
Written By: zach
URL: http://zra.livejournal.com
This is a disgrace and frankly this is one of those issues that both sides of the blogsphere need to unite on.

It will be very telling to see just who supports this...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
You want to fight it? Get your state legislature to limit eminent domain. Most seizures will be based on state law. Or you could do what I did, and donate to the Institute for Justice, which vows to keep fighting the fight (among many other noteworthy causes).
 
Written By: Fred
URL: http://www.ochsenhirt.com
This is big enough to unite everyone. The question is, how do we revolt against this?

Is it enough to go to our legislators?

Anyone what what Mark Levin’s take is today? I’m just finishing up Men In Black - great book on the history of SCOTUS.

Arrggghhh - this is maddening. Of all things, property rights should be the easiest thing for an american court to support.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
The tough question in Kelo - and it is a tough question - is whether you can create a judicially workable system for determining when a taking has gone too far afield from legitimate public functions, particularly since the factual issues are often the very sorts of determinations that are better left to legislatures than courts. (And don’t forget, government can take but it still has to pay for it).

I think I come down on the side of the Court’s conservatives on this one - I think it may be possible to declare a line that is clear enough to be policed by courts - but it’s not as simple a question as it seems, if you believe that courts should always tread cautiously in injecting themselves into areas where democracy presently reigns and where litigation could end up being costly, intrusive and unsuited to informed decisionmaking.
 
Written By: Crank
URL: http://www.baseballcrank.com
The line isn’t fuzzy Crank. Property was taken by force from one citizen and will be, in the future, given to another citizen or company that the municipal government of New London favors. Your property rights are dead.

I’ve got an extensive round up of commentary on this going now.
 
Written By: Eric
URL: http://grumbles.mu.nu/
Congress - which is controlled by Republicans - can fix this problem. Will they? Fat chance. But the so-called libertarians will vote for them anyway.

As I see it, this is a class issue - which is even more of a reason why the GOP won’t do a damm thing about it. A lot like the illegal immigration issue. There are powerful interests on the seizure side of the issue. Real estate developers are big hitters in the Republican party. Libertarians are not.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
I agree with this post, and I’m the editor of a liberal blog.

Eminent domain should not be used to build something privately owned. Only for roads, etc.

I gave you a link from my blog "Move Left" on the phrase Pfizer Corporation.

Move Left

Most liberals I’ve seen post on this topic are against this Supreme Court decision.







 
Written By: Eric Jaffa
URL: http://moveleft.com
Mk,

Well, it can be a class issue, but it has mostly been libertarians and conservatives fighting this crap. I am the former, but it is not lost on me that for all the whining about class, the real winners are the political class. It is also not lost on me that it was the so-called conservatives who opposed this decision. Reading the daily Kos and the commenters confusion over the voting split reminded me that most of the left actually doesn’t understand what conservatives or libertarians believe about constitutional theory. The assumption that it is all about big business and feeding the rich, etc., just didn’t fit. Well, that goes both ways so I won’t pick on them. The sad thing is they don’t seem to understand what liberals believe about constitutional theory. The few who do, and supported the decision on quite rational grounds if you accept the liberal premise, were met wiith consternation.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
Outrageous. F***ing thieves.

IJ fought valiantly, though.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
When attempting to fight this issue its important to remember that this is neither a liberal nor a conservative issue. Conservatives are outraged because of the intrusion of the state into the property rights of individual citizens. Liberals are outraged because of the tendency of this to be used to take property from average citizens for the enrichment of powerful corporations.

Just as this issue enrages the left and the right equally, this ruling can be spun to blame left and right wing idealogies equally. Is this the effect of a liberal idealogy that refuses to respect property rights in favor of state control? Or is this conservative idealogy asserting that its the place of state and local legislatures, and not the judiciary, to determine what constitutes fair "public use".

Beleive it or not, if one is to read the opinions on the matter, the root of the issue is that the majority felt that it is not the role of the judiciary to effectively legislate from the bench to determine what is a fair use of "public use" and what is not. As much outrage as there is directed at the SCOTUS for this ruling, the fact of the matter is that it would have been an activist extension of their power for them to determine that it was their role to overrule state and local governments in determine what constitutes a public use/benefit of eminent domain. While the liberal justices may have been in the majority, it was a decidedly conservative decision that they made.

Also, its important to point out that this ruling dosent bring anything particularly new to the table. The debate over whether eminent domain could be used for private development first arose in the late 1800s when eminent domain was used to remove property from individuals to be given to private developers for development of electrical utility services and railroads. Since infrastructure was (and still is) considered a "public use", even if privately owned, it was allowed to occur. Eventually in the 1980s eminent domain began to be used in its current form, to remove property from individuals for the sole development of a private entity. This occured with the declaration of "blight" for a neighborhood which was then turned over to GM to build an auto-factory. While this case may serve as a vehicle for our outrage, this ruling dosent change things much beyond what has already been occuring for the past 20 years.

This dosent imply that the rage that this ruling has stirred up is unwarranted, it is merely misdirected. Instead of directing this rage at the judiciary, that really made the most effective ruling they could, this should be used to drum up support acrossed the political spectrum in preventing these abuses from happening.

The most effective route for change would not be at the federal level, but at the state level. For the most part these uses of eminent domain are carried out on the local level, and it is the preogative of the states to determine the extent of rights and privledges that can be carried out by entities below them. In most states (I know this is the case in my home state of Pennsylvania) a city or county only has the right to levy taxes or exercise eminent domain because it was extended that priveledge by the state.

Now, it is imporant to understand up-front that eminent domain is not going anywhere. All but the most hardcore libertarian will agree that the ability to exercise eminent domain is a neccesary function of government. What we seem to unanimously agree on however, is that lands taken by the government for the benefit of private corporations has gone too far. Given this, what is the most effective way to fight this?

There are certainly many answers to this question, but after much thought I think I have come up with the most effective solution. Amendments to constitutions at the state level that specify that any exercise of eminent domain by a sub-state entity must be approved by the voters in the jurisdiction of that government entity. If the county seeks to use eminent domain to build a highway or a WalMart, it must first win a county-wide referendum in order to exercise that power. If a city wishes to do the same, the voters of the city must specifically approve it. The same would go with municipalities or other entities.

You may wonder, why would I only require this of sub-state government entities? There are several reasons. First of all, as we all know, governments are going to be loathe to give up any power that they currently have. The change of state officials passing an amendment that would limit their own power is highly unlikely. The second reason is a primarily practical one, most of the exercise of eminent domain (along with most of its abuses) come from sub-state governments anyways. While it may be idealogically offensive that states would be exempt from such restrictions, to this date they havent been the major offenders anyways.

If you like what I have to say, spread the word. Not just on the blogosphere, but in your local communities as well. Organize. Write your state legislatures. This is truly an issue that liberals and conservatives alike can united together on.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
Lance

What kills me is that the right gets more upset about this case than they do about the cases in which persons are detained without charges or without access to the courts in the name of the war on terrorism. It speaks volumes about the intellectual bankruptcy and immorallity of those on the right that they are more upset about the government seizing a piece of property - with the right to judicial review - than they are about seizing a person, and denying him or her the right to access the courts. As I have said before, those on the right value the right to property above the right to liberty. This case is a perfect example of that phenomenon.

My point was about the policy. Those who will benefit most from this decisions are ther monied interests who are by and large represented by the right. It wasn’t a bunch of sandal wearing liberals who wanted this property condemned. It was real estate interests. I don’t know where you live, but in most places I have lived, real estate developers are almost always conservatives.

As for what the court did today, the majority simply did what the right wants it to do - defer to the legislature. So what’s the problem?

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Liberal, Conservative....whatever.

Anyone with even half a brain in their head should be outraged. Today, for a lot of people, will be marked as The Last Straw.

 
Written By: b-psycho
URL: http://psychopolitik.blogspot.com
Well perhaps my use of the term "conservative" decision wasnt the most proper way to present it, since I was (obviosly) going for the most middle of the road approach to the issue. The point I was attempting to make was two fold.

1) That this ruling dosent really represent anything new, but merely serves as an event to focus our outrage upon. Eminent domain has been continually expanding since the late 1800s, and its current form began usage in the early ’80s. To blame this on the ruling in question is a bit out of line, but it does serve as a galvanizing event.

2) By "conservative", I am suggesting that the judiciary took the non-activist route by deferring to local and state legislatures, who are in theory better attuned to what consitutes a local interest and what does not, than some justices off in the faraway land of DC.

That being said, I do second-guess of my use of the word "conservative" in that regard, simply because of its possibility to deflect from my message. But giving the explanation I mentioned in #2, it seems to be the most appropriate word at the time.

The point is that there is an effective means for addressing this issue, and it is an issue that is important to both liberals and conservatives alike.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
Well perhaps my use of the term "conservative" decision wasnt the most proper way to present it, since I was (obviosly) going for the most middle of the road approach to the issue. The point I was attempting to make was two fold.

1) That this ruling dosent really represent anything new, but merely serves as an event to focus our outrage upon. Eminent domain has been continually expanding since the late 1800s, and its current form began usage in the early ’80s. To blame this on the ruling in question is a bit out of line, but it does serve as a galvanizing event.

2) By "conservative", I am suggesting that the judiciary took the non-activist route by deferring to local and state legislatures, who are in theory better attuned to what consitutes a local interest and what does not, than some justices off in the faraway land of DC.

That being said, I do second-guess of my use of the word "conservative" in that regard, simply because of its possibility to deflect from my message. But giving the explanation I mentioned in #2, it seems to be the most appropriate word at the time.

The point is that there is an effective means for addressing this issue, and it is an issue that is important to both liberals and conservatives alike.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
Mkultra, the reason that the "right", actually libertarians, are this upset is because we know, as you apparently don’t, that property rights are the bedrock of individual liberty. It was, indeed, the basis of our own Revolution. The other issues, while they are worrisome, are not nearly as dangerous to liberty and freedom as abrogating property rights in this fashion.
 
Written By: Eric
URL: http://grumbles.mu.nu/
Rosensteel - Well, you are right in the sense that this is a small-c conservative decision in the sense of being non-activist, while at the same time an anti-conservative decision in terms of the clash with conservative ideology (and, according to Justice Thomas, conservative judicial philosophy). As you note, this decision keeps this issue in the hands of the people’s elected representatives, and thus isn’t as per se outrageous as decisions that take power away from accountable sources.

That said, I suspect when I’ve had time to review the opinions at length I’m going to come down (as usual) with Scalia and Thomas on this one, despite my concerns about the ability to police the line. There’s a time to be activist, and that time is when dealing with a right that’s explicit in the text.
 
Written By: Crank
URL: http://www.baseballcrank.com
My question is will this development even happen now that the local military base is being closed down and 25,000 jobs are leaving?
 
Written By: MR JMS
URL: http://tooconservative.blogspot.com
Rosensteel is perfectly incorrect when he writes:

"Beleive it or not, if one is to read the opinions on the matter, the root of the issue is that the majority felt that it is not the role of the judiciary to effectively legislate from the bench to determine what is a fair use of "public use" and what is not. As much outrage as there is directed at the SCOTUS for this ruling, the fact of the matter is that it would have been an activist extension of their power for them to determine that it was their role to overrule state and local governments in determine what constitutes a public use/benefit of eminent domain. While the liberal justices may have been in the majority, it was a decidedly conservative decision that they made."

It is not judicial activism for the SCOTUS to inform the legislature what is and is not "public use", in fact it cannot be. If it were, then the legislature would be free to decide any taking is for the public use, and the clause means nothing at all beyond what a majority of legislators want it to mean. By implication, you destroy judicial review, and judicial review is not synonmymous with judicial activism.

And the judiciary is the perfect target for the just rage this decision has birthed—they made the decision. Neither is it a small c conservative decision, it expands the power of government beyond the wording of the constitution. Going at them by way of the legislature merely kills two birds with one stone.

The railroads, until Plessy V Ferguson, were under an obligation to be common carriers* and they certainly were a variety of road—the extension of emminent domain to permit their construction was no stretch.

Mkultra entirely stops making sense when he writes:
"What kills me is that the right gets more upset about this case than they do about the cases in which persons are detained without charges or without access to the courts in the name of the war on terrorism."

MK, the few American who were seized in America do have access to the courts, the federal judiciary having gotten that one right so far. The Americans seized in the field bearing arms against us should be shot as traitors and the AlQaeda fighters, being unlawful combatants, should also be glad they are not simply shot out of hand—as the Geneva Conventions expressly provide for. The only people in such a place as Gitmo who are deserving of any protections under the Geneva Conventions are the Taliban fighters who should be held indefinitely until the Afghani government negotiates with us to our mutual satisfaction for their repatriation.

"It wasn’t a bunch of sandal wearing liberals who wanted this property condemned."

No, but such asshats as that get farmers put in prison because they improve drainage of a wetland they "own".

"As for what the court did today, the majority simply did what the right wants it to do - defer to the legislature. So what’s the problem?"

The right wants the courts to obey the plain langauge of the constitution, by and large, and that much more so than the left—here the leftist members of the SCOTUS protected the concept of political planning of the economy while confirming the takings clause to be a historical oddity.

*Of course, while wrong, Plessy v Ferguson said segregation did not abrogate the common carrier doctrine.

A better thing to take up with the legislature alone would be to make rational the meaning of "just compensation". That should be tied to the self assesed value of the property with respect to property taxes, creating two benficial situations. First, you decide how much property tax you pay ;^) Second, when you do lose you property to eminent domain, whether to the public good or not, if you have paid a tax you think is fair—then you are also compensated an amount you have declared to be fair.

Yours, TDP,
ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Mkultra entirely stops making sense when he writes:
"What kills me is that the right gets more upset about this case than they do about the cases in which persons are detained without charges or without access to the courts in the name of the war on terrorism."

MK, the few American who were seized in America do have access to the courts, the federal judiciary having gotten that one right so far. The Americans seized in the field bearing arms against us should be shot as traitors and the AlQaeda fighters, being unlawful combatants, should also be glad they are not simply shot out of hand—as the Geneva Conventions expressly provide for. The only people in such a place as Gitmo who are deserving of any protections under the Geneva Conventions are the Taliban fighters who should be held indefinitely until the Afghani government negotiates with us to our mutual satisfaction for their repatriation.
I will reply in simple sentences, to help you understand.

The vast majority of the right supported the indefintite detention of an American citizen seized on American soil - and supported denying him the right to argue that he was unjustly imprisoned. That is a fact. Give me one shred of proof that says otherwise.

What the f*** is wrong with you? Really.

Without liberty, all else is meaningless. Property means nothing if one is imprisoned.

I have followed this blog for months - and I have never read one damm post, not one, from someone on the right who has been outraged by the fact that the Bush administration sought to imprison indefitintely an Americann citizen seized on American soil without the right to be heard in a public courtroom. It is mind blowing.

And yes the judiciary got it right - but in spite of right-wingers like yourself, not because of them.

And now, people like you come along and attempt to justify this kind ogf government conduct. Worse yet, you think it less serious than a procedure under which a person gets an opportunity to challenge the loss of a property right in a court of law. Never mind the fact that the property owner also gets compensated. Under your "logic," someone deprived of a piece of property, who is compensated for his loss, and has the chance to fight the deprivation, is worse off than a person imprisoned indefinitely without the chance to even see a judge.

Again, I ask, what the f*** is wrong with you? And what the f*** is wrong with the rest of the so-called libertarians that agree with you?
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Mkultra, what is "wrong" with us is that we understand, unlike you, that liberty is founded on property rights, not the other way around. Go reread Liberal political theory (not the trash that the Democrats pass around as liberal, the real thing) and then come back and chat with us.

By the way, there has been plenty of "outrage" expressed here about Gitmo, but the particular topic you are all hot about hasn’t been discussed ON THIS BLOG. That doesn’t mean we don’t care, it just means it hasn’t been discussed here.

Get a clue.
 
Written By: Eric
URL: http://grumbles.mu.nu/
Back to the use of eminent domain to transfer property from private hands to other private hands, this isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened.
 
Written By: David in AK
URL: http://
I have followed this blog for months - and I have never read one damm post, not one, from someone on the right who has been outraged by the fact that the Bush administration sought to imprison indefitintely an Americann citizen seized on American soil without the right to be heard in a public courtroom. It is mind blowing.
Your ability to read is not in question; only your reading comprehension:
I agree fully with Judge Floyd. Mr. Padilla could have been arraigned, tried and convicted, assuming, of course, the government had enough evidence to procure a conviction. That the government did not choose to do that is, actually, rather compelling evidence of the assertion that they were not persuaded that they could obtain a conviction. Mr. Madilla’s unlawful detention, without charge or trial, therefore, was nothing more than an unwarranted and illegal attempt to obtain by adminiatrative proceedings what they apparently felt they could not obtain in a court of law.

The president is fully empowered to declare people found on foreign battlefields to be enemy combatants, and to hold them at his pleasure, or until the end of hotilities. That is, I think, black letter law, and even if it wasn’t, Hamdi certainly settled it.

But to hold a a US citizen indefinitely without trial, in circumstances where he was captured in the United States by civilian authorities, with the court system open and functioning, is a perversion of the constitution, and a dangerous overreach of presidential power. The government already had Mr. Padilla in custody on a material witness warrant. There was no reason at all to vacate the warrant in order to transfer him to military custody, in lieu of trying him.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
The vast majority of the right supported the indefintite detention of an American citizen seized on American soil - and supported denying him the right to argue that he was unjustly imprisoned. That is a fact. Give me one shred of proof that says otherwise.
You sure do like the term "American Citizen." Do you mean Jose Padilla? Or as he calls himself, Abdullah al-Muhajir?

Here’s some of the things he did as an "American Citizen":

- convicted of armed robbery in which the victim was stabbed to death
- assault
- aggravated battery
- theft
- resisting arrest, to include swinging a knife at a police officer
- firing a gun at another driver in a road-rage incident

Then, he joins the Religion of Peace and makes some friends who also hate America (but in a different way than mkultra):
Padilla attended at least two mosques in the Broward County area that have since been linked to extremist activity. One is the Darul Uloom Islamic Institute in Pembroke Pines. Last month two men in their 20s who had frequented the Darul Uloom mosque were arrested on federal charges of plotting to blow up electrical power stations in South Florida as part of a "holy war" against the U.S. Maulana Shafayat, imam of the Darul Uloom mosque, says he condemns extremist ideology. But, he concedes, "a certain percentage [of converts] do get radical. They are mostly less educated, and they are the ones who feel they are oppressed."


Oh, but it gets better! This upstanding American citizen goes to Egypt and Pakistan trying to give what he thought was hydrogen-bomb technology to one of Al Qaeda’s planners, Abu Zubaydah, who told him "No, dumbass, you can’t make an H-bomb from Karo syrup, hemp and marital aids. But you CAN make a dirty bomb and still kill a lot of people. Why don’t you fly back to the U.S. and see what you can fuck up?" So he did.

We captured Abu Zubaydah, who fingered Padilla, excuse me, Abdullah bin Lopez, as one of his contacts. How do you think Padilla got overseas and got a meet with Zubaydah? Through his contacts IN THE UNITED STATES.

Fucking thumbsuckers like you really piss me off. You portray scumbags like this as an innocent "American Citizen." He declared war on his own country and tried to kill as many of his fellow countrymen as possible. He has information about other extremists (read that as DANGEROUS TERRORISTS) in this country and abroad. He is part of Al Qaeda.

Jose Padilla should be wrung out like a fucking dishrag. When they’re done with him, they can either shoot him, hang him, or rent him to Vidal Sassoon, who can test new hair-care products by spraying them in his eyes until the toxins kill him. "Sympathy for the Devil" was just a song I liked by the Rolling Stones. For liberals, it’s a philosophy.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
"Property means nothing if you are imprisoned."

No, property means nothing if you don’t own any. I live on Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana. Houses in my neighborhood average about $250K. The LOTS in the new development next door START at $250K, with the average home price being above $1 million. It is a very real possibility that some developer will eyeball my neighborhood and pitch to the city council that they could get a hell of a lot more property tax out new homes that were worth four times the present ones. Plus, living on the lake isn’t for middle-classers, it’s for the wealthy (which I will be in a few years, but it won’t be from stealing others’ land).
(H/T: Reader Jeff Domangue, who must have emailed me the second the decision came down.)
First I called the wife and told her to stock up on ammo in .44, .45, .38+p, and .45-70. THEN I emailed you, Dale.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
Has anyone thought to compare this situation to "Urban Renewal" plans under Johnson?

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
"Mkultra, what is "wrong" with us is that we understand, unlike you, that liberty is founded on property rights, not the other way around. "

Ok... interesting assertion. Can you expound on it more please? Honestly that statement makes zero sense to me. I cannot fathom how liberty (in general) is based on property rights. I’m not trying to be argumentative, I am intensly curious. Can yout explain why? (And I realize it might be an "obvious truth" to you, but please try to explain anyways because I don’t understand that at all.)

This appears to be a fundamental axiom of conservative worldview, and explains much if true. That would explain much of the conservative fixation with the freedom to do whatever you want with your money/property, but willingnes to concede other points of liberty.

Jose Padilla. We have a right to a trial by jury. A Consitutional right. But many conservatives don’t seem to care about that. I agree he deserves life in prison or death, but a jury must decide that. And denying him that jury trial, means the same could be done for any of us.

One of the reasons I’m a liberal is that I’d rather lose a little freedom over my money, than lose my freedom over every other area of my life. (Though I certainly agree with libertarians a good bit.)

shark said it best (and this may well be the first time we actually agree on something):
"This is a disgrace and frankly this is one of those issues that both sides of the blogsphere need to unite on."
Though I’d expand it way beyond just the blogsphere.
 
Written By: Tito
URL: http://
Tito, it’s like you’re fresh off the spaceship from planet Liberal and asked an (American) earthling, "What are these... property rights... you speak of?"

Well, property rights were already founded in English common law, so they were obvious truths when our country was founded. So much so that no less than three amendments that make up the Bill of Rights address property rights directly: (I’m paraphrasing here)

Amendment Three: No soldier shall be quartered in any house in time of peace or war without the consent of the Owner. Think about that - even in a time of national emergency, total WAR on our territory - Michael Moore’s home could not be used to house troops who were repelling foreign invaders. That’s powerful stuff.

Amendment Four: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated... This is such a powerful testament to the importance of property rights that we let murderers go free because evidence gathered against them was obtained through an illegal search of their property.

Amendment Five: ...nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. PUBLIC USE. Meaning, something the PUBLIC uses - roads, schools, Republikkkan Koncentration Kamps for housing our political prisoners like mkultra - you get the picture.

One of the advantages of private schooling - Civics class, where you actually learn about the Constitution and why it was written - to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." Our Constitution doesn’t grant previously nonexistent property rights, it enshrines them and limits (or used to limit) the government’s ability to abrogate them.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
I was disappointed but not surprised by the “High Nine’s” foolish ruling today on the rights of property owners in New London CT. Americans, particularly in the Middle Class are under fire from all sides, as we are squeezed out and beaten down by Corporations and Politicians but the folks in CT. may be able to get a bit of revenge….

Help raise money for these home owners to run for mayor, planning board, etc in New London and then seize the properties of all of those involved in this greed filled injustice, “for the public good”, of course! Average citizens all over America will send them contributions. It’s time we start playing their game and give them a taste of their own medicine!

Sile McGrath
New York, NY


We have begun a Boycott of your City by way of tourism. New Slogans:

Citizen’s Rights in New London CT…Dead in the Water!!!

 
Written By: Sile McGrath
URL: http://
Sigh.... thanks for the ad-hominem Jeff.

I’m not questioning what "property rights" are. Nor am I questioning that they are a good thing. And yes, I am quite familiar with civics, and the consitution. (And for the record, Jesuit educated.)

Please try reading my question next time.

My specfic question to was in regard to Eric’s statement "that liberty is founded on property rights, not the other way around. " (emphasis mine).

The way he stated it was one of those implied "this is obvious to me". What I do not understand is how liberty is founded on property rights, rather than my understanding that property rights are just one aspect of one kind of liberty: economic liberty. This seemed like an excellent time (and place) to actually understand the arguments from the other side.

From my view, liberty has other forms (freedom of speech, of religion, of association, of life, etc.) that have nothing to do with property rights or or money at all. I was, and still am, asking how those other liberties (and indeed all forms of liberty) are founded on property rights.

It’s incredibly interesting to me, because if that is a general conservative belief, then it explains the strong conservative emphasis on money/property rights over other, I believe be more important, rights (speech, privacy, jury trial, etc) being that property rights would be more fundamental. And from there, it could expand to corporate rights, being that corporations are fundamentally property, thus explaining much of the conservative point of view that I don’t understand.

Care to actually talk?


 
Written By: Tito
URL: http://
Tito:

Rights establish a just claim and the sanction to action without permission. The right to property is a right based in the right to life. You (and you alone) have a just claim to your life and the action necessary to sustain your life without seeking anyone’s permission.

Liberty is simply the freedom to execute that sanction you have by right.

A right to property is necessary adjunct to your right of life and thus the liberty to take, use and own property is founded in that right life.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
It’s incredibly interesting to me, because if that is a general conservative belief, then it explains the strong conservative emphasis on money/property rights over other, I believe be more important, rights (speech, privacy, jury trial, etc) being that property rights would be more fundamental. And from there, it could expand to corporate rights, being that corporations are fundamentally property, thus explaining much of the conservative point of view that I don’t understand
Notwithstanding that the Constitution does not mention a right to privacy (Jesuits - d’oh! [that’s a joke, lighten up]), I think you are attempting to say that conservatives value property (which you equate with money, by writing it money/property) above other rights, as if they were mutually exclusive. They are not.

Property rights encompass money, real property, intangible property, the clothes on your back, etc. Property rights are about being secure in your person and in being able to enjoy or dispose of the fruits of your labor as you see fit. According to your priority, there would be some consolation in being thrown out on the street naked, penniless and homeless, but saying, "At least they didn’t imprison me and I still have the freedom to bitch about it."

Conservatives, which the authors of this blog are not, but with whom we share a lot of philosophy, value the rights of the individual above all else. That includes freedom of speech, property rights and all other rights not enumerated in the Constitution but retained by the people. It is a pantheon of rights, not a hierarchy of rights. Not an either/or proposition.

To imply, "Well gee, since conservatives care more about money than wrongful imprisonment, that explains why they’d rather just throw poor Jose Padilla in the hole while lighting $50 cigars with hundred-dollar bills. NOW I understand where they’re coming from." I think that’s beneath you, Tito. You write like an intelligent person - the veiled swipe at conservatives was unnecessary.

Swipe out in the open - it’s more fun for everyone that way.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
You know you wanted to scream "Halliburton!" at the top of your lungs, Tito.

Admit it. ;)
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
Sorry about the "swipe" at conservatives. It wasn’t intended to be, but re-reading my post it definately came off that way. Let’s see if I can explain more effectively.

I am definately aware of many of the distictions between Libertarians and Conservatives. I have quite a bit more in common with Libertarians, and most of my strong disagreements with Conservatives is also where they differ with Libertarians. The only notable disagreements I have with Libertarians is that I believe there should be limited social welfare programs and environmental regulation, though I am very flexible on how both of those look. (We can go into that debate at another time ;-) )

With conservatives, however, I have strong disagreements on a number of issues. Specifically the morality based legislation; for example censorship of "offensive material" (music, art, pornography, etc.), anti sodomy laws, anti suicide laws, anti drug laws, etc. The Patriot Act really, really scares me... and that is without the next round of provisions many conservatives are pushing.
(I’ll go ahead and acknowledge that some Liberal politicians have been responsible for some of this as well.)

This kind of legislation affects my life, and my ability to lead it how I choose far more than paying a higher tax rate. Conservatives want government to control many areas of my life, while at the same time screaming for "smaller government" on anything related to taxes and corporations. I agree with you that it is (and should be) a "pantheon of rights" (going to have to steal that term ;-) ). It is just, as mkultra pointed out, there is far more outrage from the Right when it involves property. If there had been a hierarchy, it would have explained the priority that at least appears to be there.

Hopefully I explained myself better this time.

I won’t harp on corruption (Halliburton), because politicians on all sides dole out astounding amounts pork and shady contracts.

Ok, back to the original point.
"You (and you alone) have a just claim to your life and the action necessary to sustain your life without seeking anyone’s permission."
McQ: not that I’m espousing this in any way, but wouldn’t this be an argument against property rights? Specifically, your property right to a piece of land to farm inhibits my ability to forage or hunt on that land. If all of the land is owned by X% of the people, the remainder of the people require the permission of the land owners to survive.
More directly, does my right to my land (which produces far more food that I can eat) outweigh your right to eat, and therefore live?

If the property right is based on the right to life, how does it extend to property beyond that which is required for sustenance?

Now as I said before, I’m not arguing agaist Property rights, and I believe them to be pretty much axiomatic, and the US Constitution does enshrine basic property rights, as Jeff detailed above.

And all this still doesn’t explain to me what Eric was thinking when he said:
"... that liberty is founded on property rights, not the other way around" as apparantly neither of you (Jeff, McQ) quite agree with his statement. :-)

 
Written By: Tito
URL: http://
McQ: not that I’m espousing this in any way, but wouldn’t this be an argument against property rights? Specifically, your property right to a piece of land to farm inhibits my ability to forage or hunt on that land.

No. From the right of property comes the right of ownership. And, while you have rights, you also have reciprocal responsibilities, which mean you’re rights end where another person’s begins ... like at the property line.

More directly, does my right to my land (which produces far more food that I can eat) outweigh your right to eat, and therefore live?

Yes. You have no right to eat. You have liberty to pursue something to eat however. That liberty certainly doesn’t include a right to take what doesn’t belong to you. You have a right to action, not outcome. You have the liberty to pursue your ends (within the sphere of moral authority your rights give you), but there is no guarantee of success.

If the property right is based on the right to life, how does it extend to property beyond that which is required for sustenance?

Through economic activity and trade. Check out how capitalism works, Tito (and I’m not trying to be flip, but capitalism and its workings explain why property rights form the base of the economy and lifestyle we enjoy today. Its all based in the right to private property).
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Tito,

I will extend the conversation a bit. Nothing I am saying implies what McQ is saying is wrong. However, the right to property being the fount of liberty was understood by our founders for very practical reasons. It is our property free from seizure or invasion by the state or others that gives us the other rights. That is why as a propertied class (the bourgeoisie) developed in the UK, and later the Colonies, the power of the king waned. If they owned property and the state did not have an automatic claim upon it it carved out larger and larger realms of personal freedom. It was the colonists belief that this protection was being eroded that led to our own rebellion. Because without that right to free use of ones property the state was unchecked. The right to property was the key to all the rights of englishmen the colonists felt they were entitled to.

This is expressed in our constitution for a reason. A right to privacy is not in it, because such a right is too vague. Our privacy and freedom from the national government was assured not by such gauzy statements, but by securing our property. We got privacy by saying our property could not be invaded, seized or otherwise attacked. Freedom of speech is a small comfort without the right to property expressed by the right to own and operate the means to publish. Hence the right to a free press. They didn’t just say free speech, but specifically protected the property which made up the press of the time, because without it, free speech was greatly restricted. The founders understood, and thus as in England, liberty would only exist where the individual had actual speheres of safety from the intrusion of the state, where he was free to use his resources to express himself, such as with the press. It is this liberty to use what one has freely contracted to work for, money and property, which is the true guarantor of all other liberties. Without that right all other liberties can be attacked and/or be useless to have.

As for Conservatives and Padilla, while I am not a conservative, I have read enough of them to know that your assertion is untrue.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
Getting back to Kelo: I see the Institute for Justice got the credit they deserve. I’d also like to specifically encourage people to join the Castle Coalition (CastleCoalition.org). The writers here probably know about it, but perhaps readers may not. The usual disclaimer: my only affiliation is the modest $ I’ve contributed over the years.

And, great blog BTW.
 
Written By: Scott Lawton
URL: http://Pajamasphere.com/
Isn’t it amazing that the "Liberal" justices (or injustices as it were) Bader-Ginsburg, Breyer, et al., arrived at such a bloody fascist decision? Ah, yes and once again we may regale in the fragrant stench of Mr. Clinton’s "legacy". And a big F-U to Kennedy, Souter and Stevens for their deceit in order to gain their appointments. "If you roll a stone, it shall come back upon you—-if you dig a pit, you shall fall into it."
 
Written By: wesley
URL: http://

 
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