Friday, June 24, 2005

George Will on Kelo

Damaging 'Deference': "The question answered yesterday was: Can government profit by seizing the property of people of modest means and giving it to wealthy people who can pay more taxes than can be extracted from the original owners? The court answered yes.

The Fifth Amendment says, among other things, 'nor shall private property be taken for public use , without just compensation' (emphasis added). All state constitutions echo the Constitution's Framers by stipulating that takings must be for 'public use.' The Framers, who weighed their words, clearly intended the adjective 'public' to circumscribe government's power: Government should take private property only to create things -- roads, bridges, parks, public buildings -- directly owned or primarily used by the general public.

Those on the receiving end of the life-shattering power that the court has validated will almost always be individuals of modest means. So this liberal decision -- it augments government power to aggrandize itself by bulldozing individuals' interests -- favors muscular economic battalions at the expense of society's little platoons, such as homeowners and the neighborhoods they comprise.

Liberalism triumphed yesterday. Government became radically unlimited in seizing the very kinds of private property that should guarantee individuals a sphere of autonomy against government

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