In an editorial this week, The Wall Street Journal revealed the disturbing news that the Bush administration may side against property owners in a Supreme Court case involving the abuse of eminent domain. [emdo note: see item below]
The matter, which is scheduled for oral arguments on Feb. 22, involves more than a dozen New London, Conn., homeowners and small businesses. The city has threatened to use eminent domain to turn their property over to a more powerful private special interest.
The Connecticut case offers the high court justices their first chance since 1954 to weigh in on the pernicious practice of allowing government entities to abuse the awesome power of eminent domain.
Eminent domain was intended to allow governments to seize private property after ponying up just compensation for an important public use such as a highway or a fire station. The fact that the courts have allowed it to morph into a tool for municipalities to forcibly seize private land for the sole purpose of transferring title to a more favored private owner is a chilling indictment of the judiciary's respect for the Fifth Amendment.
The Journal reports that "Business Roundtable types" are likely pressuring the administration to come down on the side of New London. But if the Bush administration hopes to be remembered as a friend of liberty and property rights in other words, key ideals on which this nation was founded it should stay out of Kelo v. New London or, better yet, file a friend of the court brief on behalf of the beleaguered property owners.
Las Vegas Review-Journal: www.reviewjournal.com
Send an e-mail message or telephone the White House or the Dept of Justice asking the Bush Administration not to side with the developers in opposition to the property owners on this vital issue.
Telephone comment numbers and email addresses are as follows:
The Dept of Justice (202-353-1555): AskDOJ@usdoj.gov