The Quicker Picker Upper

Honestly, I have no idea what being a liberal means anymore. Of course, I never had a clue where Justice Anthony Kennedy stood on anything, other than, I suppose, on the wrong side of just about anything important, from Bush v. Gore, to Padilla v. Rumsfeld, and now finally, to the current outrage, ” Kelo v. City of New London, in which a 5-4 Supreme Court majority basically re-defined “public purpose” in matters of condemnation to be “anything that someone powerful enough to get state or municipal officials to do for private benefit that might increase the tax base”.
Its understood, of course, that if my house lies in the path of the intended expansion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, my house is probably going to be leveled. Ah, but it also means that if Bruce Ratner’s plans to build a basketball arena and commercial properties for his private benefit, though the City will get “boosterism” rights and higher tax revenues, and my house lies in the path of that project, the city and state may level my house as well.
This is fascinating, actually. It should come as no surprise that the defenders of “economic freedom” are… Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas and O’Connor; Kennedy is a tad surprising, but then, as noted above, we can safely say that he is just universally wrong (even in cases the Court rules 9-0, we must now question the overall wisdom).
Essentially, what the City of New London proposed doing was knocking down a lower income neighborhood (not a classic “slum”; just an old line working class neighborhood) for some fancy schmancy commercial development which would profit a private party, though increase the City’s tax base. Not to expand City Hall. Not to build a school or a park or a water pipeline. No. Property owners can lose the house they grew up in because someone else is powerful enough to get the government to condemn your property for his private benefit.
Simple as that. You see, the Supreme Court believed that the powerful aren’t powerful enough: once in a while, they see a nice choice piece of property in the way of their development plans, and those irritating rightful owners refuse to sell quickly or cheaply enough… best call City Hall and get those irritating proletarians to move (damn them).
Frankly, the powerful have too much influence as things already stand. This peculiar ability– public condemnation for private benefit– is something that the courts are supposed to protect us from. As usual, the Court held in favor of the powerful. That’s what it does, I guess. Its a perverse world where the “champions of state’s rights” are now the liberals. Strange world. But the State knows best. Best get used to it.