Supreme’s to decide if Property Rights still exist

Monday, February 28th, 2005 12:52 am by Neal

In Sunday’s Boston Globe, columnist Jeff Jacoby comments on last weeks Supreme Court arguments in “Kelo v. City of New London” in Will court curb eminent domain?. At issue is whether the Fifth Amendment’s “Public Use” clause for seizing private property — eminent domain — is legal solely on increased tax revenue realized by handing the property over to private developers for re-development. The article quotes Justice William Patterson who wrote in 1795, “Where is the security, where the inviolability of property, if the legislature … can take land from one citizen, who acquired it legally, and vest it in another?’’

Wesley Horton, the attorney for the City of New London, makes clear his position in the following exchange with Justices O’Connor and Scalia:

‘‘For example, a Motel 6,’’ O’Connor says. ‘‘A city thinks, ‘If we had a Ritz-Carlton, we’d get higher taxes.’ Is that OK?’’

‘‘Yes, that’s OK,’’ Horton replies.

Justice Antonin Scalia: ‘‘You can take from A and give it to B, if B pays more in taxes?’’

Horton: ‘‘Yes, if it’s a significant amount.’’

Read Jacoby’s piece for more details. In her essay, “The Monument Builders”, Ayn Rand wrote, “No human rights can exists without property rights. … To deny property rights means to turn men into property owned by the state.”

Here’s hoping the Supreme Court agrees.

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