If New London can seize people’s homes so private developers can build a hotel and convention center, what will cities do next? several Supreme Court justices asked during arguments Tuesday.
Can a city decide to get rid of the Motel 6 and put up a Ritz-Carlton, asked Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, because the luxury hotel would produce more taxes?
“That would be OK?” she asked.
“Are we saying you can take from A and give to B if B pays more taxes?” asked Justice Antonin Scalia.
Susette Kelo, sitting in the back of the cavernous court chamber, was encouraged by such questions. Kelo is the lead homeowner in a landmark case that pits a group of New London homeowners against a city that sees their property as crucial to its development plans.
Arguing on behalf of New London, attorney Wesley Horton told O’Connor, “Yes, your honor, it would be” appropriate to replace a lower-cost motel with a plush hotel.
A city, in this example, would be exercising its time-honored right of eminent domain, Horton said. The homeowners countered that what was really at stake for New London was whether developers and the city would make more money.
This is the most important case the Supreme Court has heard in ages, and it gets to the very foundation of our republic. Private property rights and protection from a capricious and overbearing government is why we started this little experiment. That is what our Constitution and Bill of Rights are all about. Check out our list of grievances with good ole King George III. In the recent past, governments, under the guise of environmental protection or iminent domain or whatever excuse they can muster have been attacking us on this front. The SCOTUS needs to take a stand.
An interesting debate can be found here.