Liberals demanding Constitutional shelter from big government, like thieves demanding justice, are always good for an ironic chuckle.
Except for the sacred right to kvetch in print, I no more expect to hear the left hollering about Constitutional rights than I expect to see union teachers packing pistols. Once you accept the idea that government should provide protection, education, food, shelter and medicine, you must either ignore the Constitution’s quaint notions of rights, gold and guns, or vilify them as outdated throwbacks to barbarism.
Never the less, the Supreme Court’s loathsome decision in Kelo vs. The City of New London is so obviously unjust that even liberals are outraged enough to mention the Constitution. With Kelo the Supremes effectively granted unlimited power to local governments to take private property from one individual and give it to another.
The Court’s 5-4 liberal majority has thrown out the 200 year-old Fifth Amendment restrictions on eminent domain. Those restrictions allowed taking private property only for “public uses,” like highways, firehouses, and necessary government buildings. Sure, ballparks or housing projects muddy the “public use” water, but before Kelo at least politicians had to fake a concern for the public before condemning a property for seizure.
The only “public use” required now is that the government must collect more tax loot from the new owners than it did from the old. Private developers can bid for private property by offering higher tax payments. Politicians can then condemn property, buy it for a song and give it to the highest tax bidder. Is this a great country or what? There is hardly a commercial project imaginable that wouldn’t provide more tax revenue than a private home. Let the bribery and bulldozing begin!
There have been reports of petitions all over the country for local and state laws to protect private property from Kelo confiscation. But there is no defense against the Supremes. They have the final word on everything. Just ask them.
Eleven states have laws that allow medical use of marijuana. The Supreme Court decided this year in Gonzales vs. Raich, that the feds could still arrest people who used marijuana even if that use is legal under state law. County sheriffs are supposed to defend the rights of local citizens, but don’t expect to see deputies surrounding marijuana clinics to fight off DEA agents. The Supremes have effectively nullified state law.
The irony thickens when we consider that Raich plainly contradicts their 1995 decision in U.S. vs. Lopez. In the Lopez case they decided that Congress had no authority to declare “gun free school zones” because guns in schools had nothing to do with interstate commerce. Good call. But homegrown pot, given free to someone without ever crossing a state line also has nothing to do with interstate commerce, yet the Supremes have declared that the feds can bust pot smoking cancer patients.
Local laws offer little protection against overreaching federal power when local authorities refuse to defend their own innocent citizens against flimsy claims of federal authority.
The Kelo decision means that no home, farm, or business in the country is safe from some politician’s idea of the public good. Nor are they safe from an influential organization’s desire for property it can’t buy or doesn’t want to pay market price for. Combine that with the snooping, searching and snitching of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act and the Constitution may as well not exist.
There is no appeal of Supreme Court decisions. The only way to overcome the courts abuse of our rights is to select judges who will put things right. Those opportunities are rare. Even so, bad decisions by the court have been reversed throughout our history.
George II will soon have the even rarer opportunity to select two judges. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that George II, a man extraordinarily fond of federal power, will select candidates who will restore Constitutional limits on his power. It is even less likely that the President’s enemies in Congress, themselves in the thrall of limitless federal power, would allow such judges to be confirmed.
There’s a last irony surrounding the Supreme’s trampling of the Constitution. It is that many who are not politicians and who see the oppressiveness of Kelo, would never support jurists who would reverse it, judges like Rehnquist or Thomas who have the respect for our Constitution that a majority of the Court must have to restore our property rights and defend our freedom. Respect for the Constitution would inevitably result in the dismantling of socialist programs and a shrinking of federal power. Who wants that?