Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Justices Reminisce About Their Decision to Support the Government's Power to Take Your Property for No Good Reason, Destroy It, Laugh, Then Run Away

New London, Connecticut--Four years ago, a bare majority of five Supreme Court Justices decided the notorious case of Kelo v. New London and allowed the government to take private property away from people so it could give it to other private developers. But today, the revival project that led to the seizure of Susette Kelo's and her neighbors' houses has fallen through, leaving the entire community a bulldozed wasteland.

The Justices siding with the government in 2004 had called its plan "comprehensive" and "carefully formulated" to "provide appreciable benefits to the community, including, but not limited to, new jobs and increased tax revenue." But since then, the plan fell apart after the company given the property decided to move its headquarters.

Those same Justices gathered recently on the gutted foundation of the former Kelo home to reminisce about the "bang up party" they had in Kelo's neighborhood.

Justice Kennedy enjoyed a beer with his colleagues and recalled, "Remember when Justice Stevens said the Constitution allowed the government to seize property for a private use, even when the Constitution's text says government can only take property for a public use, like a school or a road? That was a hoot!"

Justice Ginsburg ribbed her colleagues by saying they all may have taken it "a little too far that day," prodding Justice Stevens to say "Wow, we really trashed this place!"

But for the most part the old, lifetime-tenured jurists who rewrote the Constitution chalked up the Kelo case to, as Justice Breyer put it, "yet another great learning experience."

Associated article: Wall Street Journal

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