Friday, July 01, 2005

Finding myself with strange (judicial) bedfellows

The Supreme Court was absolutely nuts to say that the power of eminent domain can be used when the "public use" involved is nothing more than increasing the size of your tax base. It's offensive to the concept of property rights, and I find myself agreeing with, of all people, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Justice Clarence Thomas (plus Justice Sandra Day O'Connor — rather less of a surprise) in their dissent.

The concept of eminent domain is that it is sometimes necessary for the government to seize land in order to put it to public use — building a school, firehouse, police station, or other public building, or perhaps building a road or an airport. An office complex is not a "public use" within the context of the constitutional provision for eminent domain, except that five Justices say that it is.