Justices Rule Cities Can Take Property for Private Development
This is one of those times I'm with Justices Thomas and Scalia. In particular, Justice O'Connor's dissent rings true with me.
She said, “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.”
In light of the daily and long running corruption and cronyism pouring out of City Hall, how do you feel about local governments having the latitude to grab any property (blighted or not) in the name of “public use”? Go ahead and show me the light, but this seems like a huge kick in the crotch to private property rights.
My initial reaction was one of anger, as I lumped this with the recent movements to ban flag burning and search my library records.
However, I think we may have taken the right to private property to the extreme. Regardless of how we have organized things down here, from nations to deeds, I still think of the earth as common property, and our individual claims to it as temporal & limited. Regardless of how people have behaved through the ages, I find it presumptuous to think that one individual can do whatever they want with property, especially when it impacts the rest of us. If the greater public can be significantly better off through the sacrifice of a small group of people, and if this sacrifice can be compensated for whenever possible, I support it.
The tricky part about all of this, however, is that such individual sacrifices should only be asked when the benefits are significant enough, and I don't have a good sense of how this can be evaluated. Nor do I have trust that public officials have the dignity, wisdom and restraint to prevent abuse of this power.
As much as I love chalupas, I shudder at the thought of a city council evicting a family from their home to make way for a Taco Bell.