Jun 23, 2005

Horrible SCOTUS decision today.

Today the Supreme Court ruled that municipalities could use eminent domain laws to seize property for private interests. In other words, you could be forced to leave to make room for WalMart.

It was a 5-4 decision, and the liberals justices voted FOR this - the conservatives dissented.

Majority was Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer.
Dissenting was O'Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas.

First off, I'd like to comment that, regardless of what you read on the internet, the illusion that liberals care only about "the people" and conservatives only care about "business" is simply untrue. That may be a perception that has grown during the Bush Admnistration, but hopefully when you look at pure ideology this decision will make clear that there is a fundamental difference in opinion between the two groups that influenced this decision - and that is, when you filter through all the tertiary and sometimes inconsequential details of the ideology you'll come to one gem that is continually harped on by this country's libertarians - the government does not have the right to do certain things.

Constraint of power is a powerful concept in the U.S. and was a crucial point to the Framers - just look at the Tenth Amendment. In recent decades, however, a scary trend has been taking place where the power of the Government is continually becoming less and less constrained. A decision like this would have been unthinkable prior to the New Deal, but because of the Government's lack of restraint lately, it's not surprising today. That doesn't make it any less wrong, however.

What is clear in today's decision is that the conservatives on the court value this restaint more than the liberals when coming to business - which is exactly the opposite of public perception. The problem is that the relatively pure ideologies of the members on the court don't influence public perception of conservative vs. liberal values. The reason is greasing that goes on with the regular rank-and-file politicians - and the sad fact is that while both sides get their share of grease, the Republicans (note I did not say conservatives) take more grease from corporate interests than the Democrats, particularly during the Bush Administration. This is not to say the Democrats aren't corrupt either - but it should be clear to everybody that the party in power is a more attractive target to mega-corporations and their lobbyists.

There are two things I abhor about the U.S. government: political parties, and lobbies (both for profit and non-profit.) Changes in the way these two factors relate to each other are the reason the restraint that our government was so good at for 150 years has completely broken down in the 20th century, and there's no reason to believe it won't continue to break down in the 21st century.

Perhaps today's decision will cause folks to realize what's going on about their rights slowly being squelched from them, but with a majority of U.S. citizens not being able to name even one supreme court justice, I doubt it. Partisan politics keeps things simplified and the people satisfied.

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