Progressives - How many support the SC's ruling on Eminent Domain?

I’m a liberal who’s opposed to the ruling, though not as adamantly as some. As for why a liberal would support the ruling, from the editorial in today’s New York Times:

Greatest good for the greatest number, and so forth.

I object to the ruling purely from paelo-conservative leanings. I don’t think the government is good at meddling in the market. I think they should leave private businesses to negotiate on their own with private owners of the capital/property the businesses need/want. I think this should have been shot down with a lot of laisse faire references in the decision. It distorts the market to have the government acting as a procurement agent for private enterprise, period. It is a gross distortment and injustice when it is done as a result of corruption, but it is a distortion no matter what the motive. If the development plan is so fragile that a few holdouts can derail it then it has met its demise at the hands of market forces.

In general I would consider this usage of eminent domain a form of corporate welfare. I don’t think the government should meddle in the market to that extent.


Well, this is one of the rare times when almost everyone on this board seems to agree on somthing. I was hoping to see a few supporters as I have heard plenty of the other side in the other threads. Unfortunantley this is just turning into more of the same. both Plnnr and ** Cliffy** are self professed liberals, are there any conservatives out there that think this is good?

Now, more than likely, back to the deluge of disgust. :rolleyes:

While you’re giving Bill a Hummer I would like to give the 5 Supreme Court Justices one. If I could just get them to line up on the center line of the road while I’m adjusting the radio…

I’m non-conservative (not sure if “liberal” or “progressive” fits) and I don’t like the ruling either.

I’ll take a firm, principled stand right on the fence. I can see it both ways. There certainly is a public good from promoting certain types of private development, but that has to be weighed very carefully against private property rights. There may have been a lot of local insider deals made this way on a smaller basis in the past, but the ruling might well force a lot of these cases into the open - something I’m sure nobody would argue with.

I covered local governments for about a decade on a professional basis in a previous job. I got to know a lot of city mayors and councilmembers as a group. Most of the small city mayors are unreservedly gung-ho about development, because so little of it happens in their town. They really do see it as making things better for their citizens. There would be no NEED to bribe them. Besides which, many of them are already cozy with local developers, who are very smart about contributing to the right political campaigns, as a rule. And are “pillars of the community” therefore.

I feel very sorry for anybody whose property is between a small or medium-sized city and a new development, with this new ruling in place.

But that’s the beauty of America. You save up and buy a house. Big Bad Developer wants to buy your house to put in a strip mall. You say no, thanks, I love my house and I don’t want to move. Now, BBD can just go running to the local city council and say “Give me Cliffy’s house so I can put in a strip mall.” Or now, they just bypass you completely and you get a letter in the mail.

And VarlosZ? “Fully compensated?” Bwaa haa haa! The actual legal phrase is “justly compensated” and that can be way below market value. That has nothing to do with what you can get for your house. Our home was recently appraised for a home equity line. The bank came back with a number that was about $40,000 less than what homes have sold for in the neighborhood.

But that doesn’t address the fact…what if you don’t want to sell, period? What if, as a citizen, you decide to buy a chunk of land and hold onto it for twenty years to help finance your retirement? Now, you may not have that opportunity.

Fortunately, I live in one of the eight states that has limits on eminent domain. The word, I believe, is “blight,” but how does one define blight?

“Greater good” just chafes my butt. The smallest minority is the individual, and what happens to society when an individual no longer has rights?

I urge everyone who’s concerned to write to your state reps. No free society can survive without private property rights.

I guess this is where the sincere right and left loop aroud to barely meet. I consider myself on the left and I deplore the ruling.

Let the market find a creative way to move ahead with development that will truly benefit all without usurping individual property rights.

This change in Eminent Domain is likely to preferentially affect the lower middle class and the working poor as “slums” are gentrified to stimulate development, and average, humble homes are cleared to make way for spectacular shopping malls and upscale retail and office space.

I kind of poked around the issue earlier, but I am curious so I will frame it directly. It is clear that there are only a handful of people who support this ruling. What is the primary motivation for your opposition. Is it primarily anti-corporate, or is it fear of government power, or (like me) is it that you regard sanctity of private property as a fundamental liberty?

I was surprised that to many opposition seems to stem from a vision of evil Wal-Mart execs consipiring with government to take away people’s houses. Even the traditional use of eminent domain makes me queasy. I want to be absolutely convinced that government has no other options than the taking of private property for any purpose. I also want to know that the purpose is vitally necessary and will benefit all citizens.

It is funny how everyone (or almost everyone) opposes this, but I think there are a lot of different reasons floating around.

For me, it’s fear of government abuse of power and the sanctity of private property rights. What’s the point of the American dream if the gov’t can take it away from you to give it to someone with deeper pockets?

I don’t fear Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has no power to take property away from me if I don’t want to sell to them. However, my local town council does.

In my small town, a huge multi-million dollar home development is going in. We’ve recently learned that this same group of developers has bought fields of abandoned orange groves behind our group of houses. While we were on vacation, a message was left on our machine that aerial photos were being taken of our area and would we like a photo of our house. How long before these folks approach the town council with getting ahold of our three-bedroom, two bath house with a two-car garage and a fenced-in backyard? How long before my property is considered “blighted?”

Exactly. You already see it with zoning variances. I’m not against wealth (of any size) but using it to grease the wheels of zoning variances is easy to do when money and politicians are brought together in wedded bliss.

First of all, I was quoting the Times and, like I said, I dislike the ruling – just wanted to make that clear, since it appears as if you’re “Bwaa haa haa” was directed at me.

However, it’s hardly a ridiculous argument. I likely find it as distasteful as you that the government is kicking people out of their homes to make way for private business, but that’s not the only way of looking at the situation. The public came up with a plan to revitalize its economy, and that plan happened to involve private development. On the one hand, now, you’ve got the desire of a handful of residents to stay put (whose lives will hardly be ruined by having to move), and on the other hand you’ve got the financial interests of thousands of residents (including, incidentally, those who are being forced to sell). If the public’s confidence in this plan is high enough, then it’s not outrageous that they’d side with the interests of the many rather than the interests of the few.

But it sounds like you’re making a “greater good” argument of your own – namely, that society in general is worse off if we disregard property rights in this way. That’s an argument to which I’m sympathetic – I worry about the precedent that this sets, and my confidence that New London’s plan will improve life in general (not just locally) is not high. Saying that property rights are simply invioble, the greater good be damned, is less persuasive.

No, it was directed at the Times. You just got in the way. :wink:

Who is the gov’t to decide that lives will or won’t be ruined by having to move? What if you plain don’t want to? Can’t you have a right to stay in a place you bought and are paying for?

I’m not quite sure I understand what you’re saying, but I think we’re on the same side. I have no problem with true eminent domain, for such things as roads or schools or police stations. I have a problem when a developer can’t buy the property they want, so they ask the local gov’t to force the people to sell. That’s gov’t interfering in what should be a completely private matter.

Yes, but only to a point, as you have acknowledged:

I don’t believe that that’s a good description of what happened, though. The city was actively seeking private development – the public’s plan to turn the economy around was to encourage such development. That private businesses will benefit from the ruling is, from the city’s point of view, incidental (just as it’s incidental that a construction company benefits when the city takes land to build a police station).

Government has a legitimate interest in promoting public safety (police stations), education (schools), and infrastructure (roads). They also have a legitimate interest promoting economic well-being. It may happen that the best way to do that in some cases is to facillitate private development. So why is it acceptable to seize homes to promote one kind of public good (education), but “disgustingly fascist”** to seize those same homes to promote another (a healthy economy)?

Again, I’m playing devil’s advocate here. I dislike the ruling, mostly for the same reasons you do. I just don’t think it’s as outrageous as most people here seem to.
** --> . . . to borrow a phrase from the pit thread.

Because the first is a gov’t responsibility. Good roads and good schools and such will attract the businesses, as will low taxes. The latter is interfering in what is a private matter. “They won’t sell to me, so I’ll get the gov’t to condemn the property so I can get it.” See?

Disney was not built with eminent domain. IIRC, there is a private home still on one of the islands near the Contemporary Hotel. The homeowner wouldn’t sell, so Disney built around them.

Sorry that I haven’t had the opportunity to come back and give my rationale. I’ll post again as I get the time to lay my reasons out in a clear, concise fasion.

For those that had no problem with the ruling, a follow-up: what sort of process do you believe is proper to determine what compensation is “just”?

That “just” ain’t my problem.

My problem is that private corporations should not have a hand in public policy, regardless of legal reasoning.

The value of the property at the time of forced sale or the value of the improved property after it’s sold, whichever is higher.