Thomas Sowell

 This very Court, just days before, showed no such deference to a state's law permitting the execution of murderers who were not yet 18. Such selective "deference" amounts to judicial policy-making rather than the carrying out of the law.

 Surely the Justices must know that politicians whose whole careers have been built on their ability to spin words can always come up with some words that will claim that there is what they can call a "public purpose" in what they are doing.

 How many private homeowners can afford to litigate such claims all the way up and down the judicial food chain? Apartment dwellers who are thrown out on the street by the bulldozers are even less able to defend themselves with litigation.

 The best that can be said for the Supreme Court majority's opinion is that it follows -- and extends -- certain judicial precedents. But, as Justice Clarence Thomas said in dissent, these "misguided lines of precedent" need to be reconsidered, so as to "return to the original meaning of the Public Use Clause" in the Constitution.

 Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's dissent points out that the five Justices in the majority -- Ginsburg, Breyer, Souter, Stevens, and Kennedy -- "wash out any distinction between private and public use of property." As a result, she adds: "The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."

 In other words, politicians can replace your home with whatever they expect will pay more taxes than you do -- and call their money grab a "public purpose."


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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