SCOTUS: Cities can seize homes for economic development

It’s not new law - the question was whether it was good law.

I’m a liberal myself, and in my opinion this crosses the line. I’ve no interest in letting government run amok, whether it’s a liberal or a conservative government. The decision stretches the meaning of public use beyond all recognition.

This is fundamentally different from seizing land for a road, though.

With a road, or a public utility, or some other PUBLIC project done on land obtained via eminent domain, the improvements made to the land directly benefit the public (because the public can use the road) and the land is managed by the government with the interests of the people in mind.

When you take land and give it to a private, for-profit entity, the majority of the citizens will only indirectly benefit (through increased city services procured with the increased tax reveneue) and the land will be managed by a private entity with that entity’s (not the public’s) best interest in mind.

I don’t think taking land from one homeowners and selling it to for-profit corporations is a good way for the government to solve social problems.

Yes, you do, and I shouldn’t have implied otherwise. There are, though, many on this board who don’t understand the principle. Although Scalia seems to let his social conservativism color his rulings at times, Thomas is pretty consisitent in not doing so. The Medicinal Marijuana decision is a perfect example.

I don’t know. Didn’t it work astonishingly well for Flint, MI?

But where is eminent domain opened to private developers? Eminent domain is still exclusively and always the province of the government. Private developers may be the beneficiaries, but only because the government (if it isn’t corrupt) thinks that the area’s population will be better served with the development than whatever is sitting on that land now.

If the government is corrupt, a different ruling in this case won’t stop them from doing plenty of evil. And they can be prosecuted, of course.


Well, thats true. Seems this is just taking things a step further, giving the people more power to seize property…for the good of all. I mean, take a little for a road or bridge, take a lot for a new mall…its a matter of degree, isn’t it? And perhaps the people having a new mall, parking garage or office park really does trump my right to my home (or my little roach infested one room appartment).

Needless to say, I’m also against this on the principle of the thing…I’m just stunned at the wide variety of OTHER folks who are also against it in this thread. Maybe we all CAN get along. :slight_smile:


Cliffy, I guess that if your point of view is the classic American Liberal one, then I can no longer call myself that. This is a bit of a shock, because I have always identified as such. I really don’t know where that puts me, because as far as I can see all of the political schools of thought just have it wrong.

I guess that on social and economic issues I believe that the government should basically act as a referee that has made fair rules, and damn well makes sure that everyone plays by them.

What saddens me is that we seem to be loosing the concept of things that are in the public domain and are a direct benefit to the community (Like libraries, schools, roads and such) and things that are privately owned an have some diluted theoretical benefit in tax revenue (like convention centers, shopping malls and the like). At the end of the day, I tend to trust the former because the benefit is obvious. People are reading or learning or better able to commute to work and move goods from point to point. By the same token, I mistrust the later because I see the cities coffers as these ever-hungry bottomless maws that will never be satisfied. By opening this up like this, there is no real motivation for them to not seize land for half-coked schemes.

What if I don’t agree with the appraisal?

What about moving costs, or temporary housing costs if a new place cannot be found in the time alloted? What about any additional real estate costs associated with purchasing the new house?

What if I happen to work next door, and the new place I find to live requires the use of a car to reach the same job, which I currently don’t own? Or let’s say I want to stay in the same neighborhood (schools, friends) but all available housing is $100,000 more than my appraisal - will the local govt cover the difference (this isn’t quite so far-fetched - I happen to own the only two-bedroom house on my block - my house is worth, say $260,000. The cheapest house available in any two-block direction is easily $375,000)?

And what about the emotional toll - of having to uproot against your will. Is that justly compensated?

Although I don’t have a problem with the general concept of government doing things for the common good which may at times cause problems, this decision just seems to open up all kinds of opportunity for abuse. It’s kind of like why I oppose torture. Give a government a weapon like that, no matter how much they beg and plead and say they’ll be good and careful and everything and … they’ll shoot your eye out, every time.

Absolutely nothing new here - the practice has been going on forever and is supported by legislation and legal precedent. We thrashed this out when the case was first heard and I, for one, expressed the opinion that the SC would uphold the locality.

Thanks for adding to the discussion.

Here’s the link to our earlier discussion of the case.

I grew up in New Albany, OH, back when it was a little farming town of 5K people. Les Wexner, who owns The Limited, decided that he liked the town, and promptly began buying the place up and building multi-million dollar homes. Nobody in the town had the money to fight for very long, and whenever Wexner wanted something, he simply donated things like fire trucks, etc., to the city. There was ample evidence of bribery and illegal activities (including vote rigging), but the locals couldn’t get any of the authorities to investigate.

Of course, it looks like I’m screwed in my present domicile as well, since they’re starting to build up this town with multimillion dollar homes, so it’s only a matter of time before I get booted.

I think I might just have to dig out that Earth First! manual I’ve got around here.

You’re welcome. Think nothing of it.

Nonsense. If a plan is valid, it can simple move elsewhere.

A distinction without a difference. If I pick your pocket while wearing a Bozo the Clown hand puppet, the theft was still done by me, not by Bozo.

To anyone who thinks this is a good decision, i’d ask you to read the incidents described in this report (pdf) and make an argument that this is the sort of thing that should be happening in America. The New London case that was just decided by the Supreme Court is actually the first example listed in this document.

Abuse of eminent domain has been on the increase in the past decade, as self-interested local decision-makers waltz over people’s rights in the interests of their own greed and power hunger. Sure, they often attempt to justify their decisions as being in the public interest, but in many cases the very public that is alleged to benefit from these decisions is also strongly opposed to them.

I don’t see what the big deal is.

Is seems to be working just fine in Zimbabwe.

I feel like I’m in an alternate universe. I love these new threads. I join my fellow liberals in condemning this latest encroachment upon our liberty. Tyranny is tyranny, whether the scale is local or national. To those who have argued that classical liberalism would take us back to the days of robber baron capitalism, I submit that this sort of authoritarianism, and not freedom, is the road to cronyism and partnership between government politicians and business tycoons. Now, all that a thug will need to dislocate people for his own gain is a local magistrate in his pocket.

What can you conclude about Scalia and Thomas now - and what can you conclude about Breyer and Stevens now?