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Quote of the Day - No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session. - Judge Gideon J. Tucker
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Straightening Out The Effects Of Kelo v. New London

The House has passed the baton to the Senate.  The property rights baton, that is.  After Kelo v. New London, a lot of people were upset with the U.S. Supreme Court.  But as one of my judge friends tells me, "we just interpret the laws, we don't make them."  While that notion may be contrary to popular opinion about judges, it wasn't the situation in Kelo.  The Supreme Court merely interpreted New London's eminent domain law that allowed private property to be taken by the government and "given" to other individuals for public benefit.  Justice O'Connor, however, disagreed with that assessment, along with Justices Kennedy and Thomas.

For itself, Congress has stepped up to the plate and done something about it.  Well, at this point, half of the Congress.  It's up to the other half to determine what to do next.  It would be more accurate to say both halves since the Senate has a competing, but similar bill.  Presumably there will be a committee to resolve the differences, and then approve the revised bill, which would then go off to the President for his signature.

In its present form, the House bill strips state and local governments of federal funding if they use eminent domain to transfer privately owned land to commercial interests.  It doesn't change the 5th Amendment of the Constitution (that would take three-fourths of the States).  It does, however, make a point where it hurts the most - in government pocketbooks.

Congress isn't the only body getting into the act.  There are apparently a number of state legislatures looking into it, too.  As the author of the majority opinion Justice Stevens has come under enough flak that he spoke out about his decision, saying, he has "always allowed local policymakers wide latitude in determining how best to achieve legitimate public goals."

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, November 05, 2005 at 16:02 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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