Sydney Kendall Says

Thinking in public about anything that matters.

A Growing Threat to Rights

The subject that has been burning in my mind is the recent Supreme Court decision allowing government to take property by eminent domain – and to take it for the “public purpose” of bringing in new property owners whose use of the property will generate more taxes than the present owners.

Forget all the reasons that one might want to hold on to one’s property. Personal attachment because of family history, or a love of the landscape, a love of living in the woods or with a gorgeous seaside view, or a passionate desire to preserve a patch of nature you especially love and don’t want developed – or maybe the desire to hold on to the property until the value goes up – none of that matters to the wielders of eminent domain. Rather, personal values must give way to the government’s will to take your land and give you what is deemd – by someone other than you – to be the value of the property, so that the government can make up for the mess it has made of it’s budget, or so that it can build the boom-town that the council envisions.

After all, everyone would love to leave some kind of legacy, right? What a dream-come-true to be able to raze people’s houses and small businesses and build something grander!

When the government wants to take your property so that some big tax generator can move onto it, there’s a good chance that your property will be declared “blighted” – even though it’s a very nice, well-kept property. That’s the easy way, as I understand the rationale, of getting the full tract of properties for the intended project.

As soon as your property is declared “blighted”, the “market value” drops. And now government – the supposed guardian of your right to life, liberty and… what was that other one? I forget…

Oh, well. That supposed guardian of your rights makes you sell your property at the price it deems your property is now worth. It’s not likely to be what you’d hold out for on a free market.

That’s how I understand what’s going on in this arena today.

If you’d like to see some of what I’ve been listening to and reading and check the facts, here are a few links:


Eminent Domain: Exploiting the 5th Amendment to destroy private property rights

Eminent Domain: Kelo v New London & The Logic of Destruction

Justice Clarence Thomas: A Journey into American Ideals

Disposing of the Indispensible: Destroying Private Property


Jeff Jacoby: The abusers of eminent domain

Thomas Sowell: “Mainstream” Judges

Richard Salsman: Another Nail in the Coffin of Property Rights

Institute for Justice

More later.

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1 Comment

  1. Thankfully, the legislative branch is now busy at work attempting to shield private property rights from the Supreme Court ruling. It seems that the two may have switched roles, with the House defending the Constitution, and the Supreme Court writing new laws.

    I thought I saw Alice the other day! Or maybe it was Justice Souter –skipping in Wonderland, immune to and above the laws he passes.

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