Why do I see this as a greater undermining of freedom than many of the other examples of Court Activism?
Let me count the ways:
(1) First, Kelo is taxation without representation. It strikes at the very root of this country’s inception: that the common man under common law has certain common rights… among these in our system is the right to have a say in our taxation. What Kelo does is take from the common man and gives to the rich man for purposes of taxation. The common man pays in terms of his choice of happiness in the place he has carved out for himself: his home. The rich man benefits and the government skims off the top. There is no recourse for the man forced to pay, in his pursuit of happiness as well as real means, this tax.
It is forcing the less empowered to pay for the socialistic services that government has taken upon itself, and to fill the coffers of the school system that will no longer serve the enforced removal of the payee ( unless this person can somehow afford to pay the new higher prices for living in that area). This is on the broad scale of wherever in the country the government decides to condemn assets for their purposes. The problem is not how much it is done, but that fact that it can be done and there is no recourse. That is overwhelming power in the hands of government. The matter was already weighted on the side of the government by de facto practice. Now, it is foregone conclusion: the government wants your property? the government wins. Hands down. The greedy developers just ride the coatails of the government excuses for robbing their citizens.
(2) And it is robbery. We did not ask the Government to play Robin Hood, it has the history of giving token amount to the poor and largesse to its own benefactors and supports. It is not a good Robin Hood, so why would we assent to this?
Before Kelo, the government had been busy at thisactivity of taking properties for taxation purposes, but with restraint that court cases will sometimes give rise to, but now it has no real legal restraint, and it is whatever the people will endure. Where are the restraints of accountability? Where is the test of what equals “public good”? Is it Constitutionally sound or is it vague beyond what can serve justice? That is the problem with vaguely giving government everything….. it will find a definition to fit its desire for your property at a time when property is one of the few means of wealth for the middle and lower classes. If you own your home, you have a means of weath, if you are not assured that property- all other property is at risk.
(3) In Roe vs. Wade the courts ruled in a nationwide impacting decision that has affected the lives of many millions. But it was ameliorated by the fact that you could still appeal to the women involved, you could hope to change matters with giving services and information and lobbying their opinion to change the outcome. This decision of Kelo is enforced by government. No one to appeal to, and no effective means for any citizen to change the outcome.
When you lose your say in a matter, you have lost all. You can only submit to demands. If this is not rescinded, it paves the way for government to be capable of demanding all. It is only restrained by its own desire. And that is not a safe place to be in history.
The question was asked:”Are high income and tax-producing enterprises of more public purpose than a library, a park, a museum, or a stable community of homeowners?” It is not a matter of more, but of ‘equal’ now. And the latter is the excuse for the former. But it is a matter that if we want more libraries, better schools, and services, we are going to have to pay for them ourselves…not on the backs of hapless homeowners who no one will represent.
We must pay our own taxes, that is what the representation means… otherwise we must do without. That is the basic ethic of America. We are not a Socialist Republic, we never agreed to redistribution of property rights and wealth. We agreed to vote on taxes and vote on how those were to be spent. That is the Civitas agreement of the democratic republic. We have veered far from that with the culmination being Kelo.
(4) The potential for abuse of this is one of openended opportunity. People made a stand for the abusiveness of the IRS in taxation. That was nothing compared to this. Nothing.