June 23, 2005

Welcome to the new feudalism

If you thought that the Terri Schiavo case represented the worst sort of judicial tyranny in the United States, think again:

A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in communities where economic growth often is at war with individual property rights.

The 5-4 ruling - assailed by dissenting Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as handing "disproportionate influence and power" to the well-heeled in America - was a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They had argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.

As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.

[Full Story]

In other words, if you are a homeowner, and some developer makes a pitch to the municipal government that they can put the land to better use (which would generate higher taxes for the city), now the government has the "Constitutional" right, backed up with a Supreme Court precedent, to expropriate your land and give it to the developer.

This decision is worse than feudalism: at least the feudal lord had to demonstrate breach of contract before compelling the vassal to forfeit his fiefdom. It represents the worst aspects of socialism and unbridled capitalism: pure covetousness and greed motivating confiscation of private property.

Woe to those who join house to house,
who add field to field,
until there is no more room,
and you are made to dwell alone
in the midst of the land.
The LORD of hosts has sworn in my hearing:
"Surely many houses shall be desolate,
large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant. (Isa. 5:8-9)

Ironic comment of the day goes to "Cynical Nation" on VodkaPundit: "This conservative, right-wing court is destroying *all* our rights!! Well, at least we had some brave dissenters on this one, like O'Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas."