SCOTUS: Cities can seize homes for economic development

SCOTUS: Cities can seize homes for economic development. This just strikes me as seriously fucked up. How in the world can this happen?

I really don’t want to be one of those posters that just drops a link to a controversial news story and then moves on, but I am literally stunned at this news. What the fuck is happening to my country?

It must be the inner Republican, or possibly the inner Libertarian in me, but I am simply horrified by this decision. I am amazed. I was seriously expecting a 9-0 decision against this practice. I can’t believe it.

What I am forced, however, to admit in the interest of honesty is that the justices that I usually find to be loathsome (Scalia and Thomas notably) made what I consider to be the right call on this one.

I am hoping that someone that has read the decision will come along and explain to me in simple terms how this makes any kind of sense.

I find it frightening as well. Can someone explain as well what exactly “just compensation” is, and who determines it?

Agreed. I was pleasantly surprised to see Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas and O’Connor as the dissenting voices:

Public use, hmmm. You gotta love these eminent domain rulings. You know, if you just change a few words around, Justice Stevens can use the same logic in the expected decision on file-sharing

The copyright holders have carefully formulated an economic structure that provide appreciable benefits to the themselves, including - but by no means limited to - making a profit and increasing regulation on private files people choose share.

This is seriously, seriously, seriously fucked up. Bulldozing homes to further the interests of private business is disgustingly fascist. I’d be VERY sympathetic to acts of civil disobediance and non-violent resistance by and on behalf of the homeowners.

It’s a good decision. It’s also not new law – I believe this has been roughly the state of the law since the early '90’s at least. (It was certainly the case when I took my property class in 1998.) This ruling prevents lone holdouts from derailing an economic development plan that can bring tremendous benefits to the poor – better schools, better healthcare, better policing, more jobs, higher wages, etc., etc. The list goes on. As a liberal, of course I support that.

Yes, cities could abuse this power, but 1) that’s always the case with every thing any government actor does – it’s not a reason to prevent the appropriate exercise of the power. 2) It’s harder to abuse than you think – local governments, moreso than national ones, certinaly, are at the mercy of public whims. This is exactly the type of thing that can create a public outcry if a local government uses the power inappropriately, and that will force the elected officials to use it judiciously so as not to piss off a few hundred constituents, which in a city council race, is often going to be enough to tip an election. 3) The 5th Amendment further prevents local governments from abusing this power because it requires the owners of seized property to be given “just compensation.” Therefore, cities can’t use the power unless they’re willing to pay for it, and willing to give up other funding priorities to do it. Further, as we’ve seen in recent elections, there’s nothing the electorate likes more than lower taxes, so a government that overuses eminent domain is going to be replaced in short order by an administration that promises to stop spending money on eminent domain and “return it to the taxpayers.”

As a general rule, when liberals come to the Court, outside of a few areas (abortion and crime come to mind), we should be on the side of more regulation, not less. (Binary, I don’t mean to state that you’re a liberal, because I don’t know if you are or not, but your brief OP implies that you might be. I certainly am.) We may not like the monkeys who are currently writing the regulations, but that’s a political matter. American liberalism is based on the assumption that governments can solve social problems; ergo, liberals should in general want government to have such tools as are available to go about their work. That’s why I honestly believe this decision is good for America.


Its called a real estate appraiser.

The timing of this couldn’t possibly be more perfect. The tenants in my building are trying to block the demolition of a landmark building next door for purposes of construction of a highrise apartment building. If this thing goes through, that means construction–including blasting–right outside my window. For probably 3 years.

Count me with the highly surprised. I didn’t think it would be unanimous, but I fully expected the balance to tilt in favor of homeowner rights. :frowning:

Hmm. Only two posts when I started writing. Anyway – I hope my post calms some blood around here. IMO, this decision is unquestionably a good thing. (Although not unequivocally one.)


P.S. to John – Duh. The government can seize intellectual property as well as physical. But, y’know, only if you can convinces the government to do so.

That’s because you associate a close reading of the constitution with social conservativism, which isn’t necessarily the case at all.

Oh, forgot to add…

We did a GD thread on this quite a few months ago. I don’t remember the title, but if you do a little digging, it should be easy to find.

I would have thought more folks would be happy with this. You know, the whole ‘seizing property for the public good’ and all. Sounds like a dream come true. :slight_smile:

Well, I can’t say I’m horrified by the decision…after all, the government has had eminent domain for quite a while, hasn’t it? Its not like this is new…I’ve seen it happen before where part of someone’s property is seized by the government to expand a road or whatever…for the good of the public.


I think that the difference is that, as I understand it, eminent domain is traditionally used for things like building roads or bridges and the like. While this clearly can suck for a particular set of landowners, I am at least able to see these things as a part of the “commons” and something that will be to the good of the whole community.

When you open that up to private developers with a lot of money that are not beholden to anyone but shareholders, I see potential for massive abuse.

Also, John Mace, your point is well made. I have a pretty big socially Liberal conditioned response but I do work pretty darn hard at at least seeing and trying to understand other points of view.

This is why I’m armed.

Forever, in fact.


I am starting to really think about doing the same.

At first glance, I want to scream WHAT THE FUCK?
After reading Cliffy’s cogent analysis, I want to raise my bid to an ARE YOU FUCKING NUTS?

Local politics are rife with favouritism, petty decisions, and all sorts of assorted skullduggery that goes undetected because the resources to bring such selfishness to light don’t exist. Guess I don’t have much faith in local politicians, because I think this decision leaves the door open to wannabe Donald Trumps to start massive development projects that will destroy neighbourhoods in order to put cash in the pocket of someone else.

On the other hand, there is a remote possibility that neglected inner city cores could be rebuilt using this decision. But if the business plan for any eminent domain purchase is based on the idiocy of attracting tourists to a region (Tourism! The least reliable economic driver in existence!) such a plan will fail.