Supreme Court threatens property rights

Today the Supreme Court handed down a terrifically bad 5 - 4 decision concerning private property rights and eminent domain. In KELO et al. v. CITY OF NEW LONDON et al., the majority (led by Justice John Paul Stevens) ruled that the city of New London, Connecticut was entitled seize private property, in accordance with the Fifth Amendment's "public use", in order to allow private developers to build office space for research and development for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, conference space, and a retail shopping area.

In a stinging rebuke, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's dissent (joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia and Thomas) quotes a 1798 case, Calder v. Bull, demonstrating that the majority have abandoned the Court's own precedent. She writes:
Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded--i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public--in the process. To reason, as the Court does, that the incidental public benefits resulting from the subsequent ordinary use of private property render economic development takings "for public use" is to wash out any distinction between private and public use of property--and thereby effectively to delete the words "for public use" from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
Justice Thomas not only concurs with O'Connor's dissent, but wrote his own as well. Dripping with sarcasm, Thomas accuses the majority of not just circumventing the framers' intent in the Fifth Amendment but of changing it completely.
"The Court replaces the Public Use Clause with a '[P]ublic [P]urpose' Clause, (or perhaps the "Diverse and Always Evolving Needs of Society" Clause, a restriction that is satisfied, the Court instructs, so long as the purpose is "legitimate" and the means "not irrational." This deferential shift in phraseology enables the Court to hold, against all common sense, that a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation, is for a "public use."
This decision is important both as a legal decision and as political intrigue. The Court has launched its most blatent attack against private property, the very foundation of capitalism and the American republic. This decision has stripped the proverbial "little guy" of any and all protection from the rich multinational corporation. Pfizer benefits, wealthy developers benefit, and the property owners (including one 80 year old woman whose family has owned the property for over a century) are left searching for a place to live.

Even more intriguing in this decision is the fact that it witnesses the "liberal" majority siding with big money business while the "conservative" minority sides with the poor and, now, defenseless. So much for the ideological labels about which everyone is so concerned. Now maybe the Congress can concern itself with something important (defending property rights) and forget about the ideological views of President Bush's judicial nominees.