Thanks to the socialist wing of our highest court, the language of the Fifth Amendment has been perverted to include economic development as a justifiable reason for disregarding private property rights. In the latest episode of “how can the government make sex to me, without even buying me a drink first,” a developer in New York has convinced that state’s highest court that the New Jersey Nets need a new arena more than 146 people need to keep their homes (source).
In case you’re not familiar with United States property law, I’ll give a quick primer. Owning “real property,” here in the U.S., essentially amounts to having the privilege of using U.S. laws and U.S. courts to enforce your rights against others. If you don’t want your neighbor to build that fence 3 feet into your back yard, you can file a law suit and prevent him from doing that. Since property rights come from the government, the government can potentially refuse to recognize your rights. The Bill of Rights to our Constitution, recognizing this, includes a limitation on our government’s ability to just up and decide to turn you out of your house. The Fifth Amendment states, among other things, that “private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
Seems fair. If your community needs a school or a road, and the only way that public utility can be built is to dispossess someone of their property, the government can do it, but they have to pay the fair value. It would be better if property rights were inviolate, but clearly it’s going to come up occasionally. The Founders came up with a plan, i.e., eminent domain, to make it reasonably just. That worked just fine for 200 years — until some limousine liberal Supreme Court Justices decided that they knew what’s best for all of us, in their infinite paternal benevolence.
In 2005, the Court ruled 5 to 4 that handing people’s homes over to private real estate developers could be considered “public use,” within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment. Luckily, most red states have reacted by providing state law protection for property rights (thanks be to his Noodly Goodness for the Tenth Amendment). But the Empire State (guess which way they typically vote) is apparently okay with assisting private real estate developers in perpetrating a land grab in Brooklyn. The following is a dramatization of what occurred:
So on this Thanksgiving, make sure you say thank you to Justice Stevens and his socialist, intellectual elitist colleges, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer, for taking a collective crap on the vision of our Founders — who gave King George the finger for, among other reasons, disrespecting property rights of non-royals. (To this day, Britons still have to rent property from the Crown, rather than own it.) It certainly is confidence inspiring to know that a real estate developer can march into a New York court, waving a page from Hugo Chávez’s playbook, and come away with an endorsement. Clearly, we’re moving in the right direction as a nation.