John Stossel

 It looked to me as though the government was robbing Coking to pay Trump. I confronted him about it: "In the old days," I said, "big developers came in with thugs with clubs. Now you use lawyers. You go to court and you force people out."

 He replied: "Other people maybe use thugs today. I don't." True enough. Trump didn't send thugs after Coking; he sent the government. That's worse. If he had sent thugs, Coking could have called the police. But when government forces you out of your home so that some other private person can pave it, whom are you going to call?

 Trump wanted to turn Coking's home into a parking lot. The court accepted the bureaucrats' decision that the parking lot would be a "public use" but rejected Trump's bid, saying Trump's private benefit "overwhelmed" the public benefit. Justice Stevens, in his opinion for the Court last week, uses a similar notion when he claims that the purpose of taking your land to give it to some well-connected corporation must still be a public one, such as improving the economy; merely benefiting a company isn't good enough.

 But as Justice O'Connor pointed out in her dissent, if you can think of a more economically productive use for your home, you'd better worry. If a politician thinks of it, your castle may not be yours any longer.

John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at > To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at ©Creators Syndicate