Two news items from CNN.
The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that local governments may seize people’s homes and businesses — even against their will — for private economic development.
The 5-4 ruling represented a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.
Local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community, justices said.
What? Eminent domain is a tolerated if unpopular thing as it is. Shouldn’t there be some sort of protection for land/homeowners from businesses that are leaning heavily upon “local governments”? Even if strip malls and hotels will bring in extra tax revenue, is that any excuse to infringe upon the rights of private ownership? A lot of things might be profitable, but that doesn’t mean the government can do them.
O’Connor said it best in her “stinging dissent”:
“Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random,” O’Connor wrote. “The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.”
Even more hotly debated (rimshot) is the issue of flag-burning. You might recall that SCOTUS declared it a free-speech right in 1989. Now it’s coming up again.
The House on Wednesday approved a constitutional amendment that would give Congress the power to ban desecration of the American flag, a measure that for the first time stands a chance of passing the Senate as well.
Supporters said the measure reflected patriotism that deepened after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and they accused detractors of being out of touch with public sentiment.
“Ask the men and women who stood on top of the [World] Trade Center,” said Rep. Randy [Duke] Cunningham, R-California. “Ask them and they will tell you: pass this amendment.”
Yeah, that’ll really show those terrorists, right? I think perhaps the firefighters cared more about extinguishing burning Americans than burning flags. Despite what Liam Neeson says in Batman Begins, the flag is nothing more than an arbitrary symbol, one that paradoxically stands for a virtue that allows its desecration. I’m not a proponent of flag-burning, per se, but making flag desecration illegal? Anybody who voted for this in the House can kiss my First Amendment-loving ass. Still, I’m hopeful that this will fail in the Senate, or at least in the state ratification process.