The Fifth Amendment's protection against illegitimate takings of private property was already on life support, but this decision pretty much finishes it off.
I suppose Stevens, writing for the majority, was trying to make us feel better when he pointed out that local governments could opt not to exercise this perversion of eminent domain power. On the contrary: now that local governments have the green light here, the potential for corruption will know no bounds.
The Times story (linked above) quotes O'Connor:
In a bitter dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said the majority had created an ominous precedent. "The specter of condemnation hangs over all property," she wrote. "Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."I wish O'Connor would defer to the Founders' intent more often, but I'm still happy to see her on the right side on this one.
"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private property, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," she wrote. "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," Justice O'Connor went on, "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."
The Dems know what's at stake in the coming battles over Supreme Court nominations. I hope the Republicans—especially those who still retain a shred of respect for the Constitution as originally written—understand as well.
Complete text of the decision: PDF, HTML
Commentary from Texas Insider
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