Thursday, June 23, 2005

Bad news...

Supreme Court Rules Cities May Seize Homes - Yahoo! News

As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.

Writing for the court's majority in Thursday's ruling, Justice John Paul Stevens said local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community. States are within their rights to pass additional laws restricting condemnations if residents are overly burdened, he said.

"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," Stevens wrote.

Stevens was joined in his opinion by other members of the court's liberal wing — David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. The bloc typically has favored greater deference to cities, which historically have used the takings power for urban renewal projects that benefit the lower and middle class.

They were joined by Reagan appointee Justice Anthony Kennedy in rejecting the conservative principle of individual property rights. Critics had feared that would allow a small group of homeowners to stymie rebuilding efforts that benefit the city through added jobs and more tax revenue for social programs.


At 1:46 PM, Blogger Nathan said...

On the face it may look bad, but I don't think it is bad for the following reasons pointed out by Justice John Paul Stevens...

1) Federal Judges should not be involved in such local issues.

2) States are within their rights to pass laws restricting the practice.

This is a States rights vs. Federal rights issue. Who gets to decide what happens...Federal Judges or Local Judges. I think the correct decision was made to let States decide the fate of their own citizens.

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Tyler said...

So - time to start organizing on a state level, then?

This strikes me as opening the way for abuse of the eminent domain power. Whoever holds the power in local politics has the ability to condemn any hindrances.

At 6:20 AM, Blogger Maine Man said...

But, how much easier is it to oust local officials when they start screwing up? It's much easier to impeach a city councilman than a Supreme Court Justice.

I agree with Nate, this is a States' right and the Fed should stay out of it. Not to say there isn't cause for concern (IE: how is Walmart or Rocky Anderson going to capitalize on this)but I'd rather fight this at my own city hall than in the National arena.

At 10:40 PM, Blogger Charley Foster said...

Nathan's point is what has me all ambivalent about the decision. The hand wringing is all about how it's "corporate interests over individual rights." But Nathan's right, there's a glaring federalist angle that's keeping me straddling the fence.

At 10:15 AM, Blogger Tyler Farrer said...

A recent law passed in Utah makes this moot for this State.


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