Thursday, June 23, 2005

SCOTUS Eliminates Private Property Rights

The big news of the day is the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Kelo v. New London [PDF here]. This decision, which allows a city government to take, say, your grandmother's home for the purposes of building an IKEA, is an outrage to anyone who supports the basic concept of private property. Make no mistake, this ruling will have big implications in the forthcoming fight to fill the next vacancy on the Court.

From Justice O'Conner's dissent, joined by Justices Thomas, Scalia, and Rehnquist:
Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded—i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public—in the process. To reason, as the Court does, that the incidental public benefits resulting from the subsequent ordinary use of private property render economic development takings “for public use” is to wash out any distinction between private and public use of property—and thereby effectively to delete the words “for public use” from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
A good friend sent me an e-mail about the decision, which I post here because it places this ludicrous decision in historical context:
Although this might be a stretch (and is definitely an unqualified opinion), I think that this is the worst decision the court has made in the past 60 years. It is a further example of the real dichotomy of this nation (urban vs less urban rather than blue vs red) when a group of city dwelling Judges can determine that municipalities have a constitutional authority to both define the parameters of the city's welfare and nearly unlimited domain to accomplish those needs. To think that we "loosed ourselves" from Aristocratic and Monarchial claims on our property to one day decide that the city, generally administered in this country by our least able and least educated politicians, could take peoples land to further economic development. It is absurd. I am really quite shocked and to see the voices that line up in support of the powerful and influential in this matter. Liberals of all people. Further proof that they love and believe in only one thing, the power of government. How many low-income homeowners are going to be kicked out of their property for a new mall or riverside condominiums? How many renters in the center of town are going to be thrown out on their ear because the landlord can now be forced to sell-out their property for the city's "interest." It is appalling.
I agree.

UPDATE: Michele Malkin has the pundit rundown.

MORE: Professor Bainbridge weighs in here.

YET MORE: Are churches next?
If the purported intention of such property condemnation and seizure is increasing tax revenue, as Justice Stevens clearly believed it was, then there is no kind of building more vulnerable than a house of worship, for the simple reason that cities do not collect property taxes from houses of worship, nor any other kind of tax.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Subject: Gitmo

James Lileks has the smackdown. Here's a taste:
Q: What forms of torture do they use in Gitmo?

A: The interrogators make a point of handling the Quran with gloves, to indicate they accept the prisoners' definition of infidels as "unclean." But the guards occasionally suggest that the gloves are not only washed with the general laundry that might include the socks of Jews, but that sometimes the anti-static cling sheets are deliberately left out.
Read the whole thing.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

I am "It" - The Musical Baton

My buddy Don Nunn recently (well, a couple of weeks ago) "tagged" me with the Musical Baton. Here we go:

Total volume of music files on my computer: 20.57 GB, with few if any duplicates. I've only ripped about 1/2 of my music collection thus far.

The last CD I bought was: French Romantic Organ Favorites: A Souvenir Collection by the world renowned organist Angela Kraft Cross. Ms. Cross recently gave a recital on our seminary chapel organ, and I was pleased to purchase this CD directly from her. She is in the midst of a worldwide tour, and at the time of the recital her next stop was scheduled to be the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France.

Favorite song from the album (er, CD)? Probably the Toccata by Louis Vierne.

Song playing right now: I Play Chicken with The Train by Cowboy Troy (featuring Big and Rich).

Five songs I listen to a lot (or that mean a lot to me): Listed in no particular order.
Handing off to Sara.