What's Yours is Mine


The Supreme Court has rendered its verdict in Kelo v. New London, and the widely-expected result has come to pass: a 5-4 loss for property rights. As Raich taught us that growing pot in your backyard for personal consumption is "interstate commerce," Kelo informs us that taking people's homes to hand over to private developers building an office complex is a "public use."

You do wonder: Now that the "liberal" justices on the court have sided with the drug warriors against cancer patients, and with a plan to rob people of their homes for the benefit of wealthy developers, will some court-watchers on the left begin to question the wisdom of having let economic freedom become the red-headed stepchild of modern jurisprudence?

UPDATE: The opinions are here. As with Raich (in a sense just a reaffirmation of Wickard), we're just seeing a particularly outrageous confirmation of what was already, in effect, the law. As the majority opinion says, quoting an earlier decision, the "Court long ago rejected any literal requirement that condemned property be put into use for the … public." Which is to say, they've rejected the notion that "public use" means anything more stringent than: "legislators want to do this." The Court's view is that any "public purpose" will do, and such purposes apparently include increased tax revenue. The straightforward implication is that any taking of a private residence to hand it over to a business, or just from a poor person to a wealthy person, will be a taking in service of a public purpose: As a general rule, the rich pay more taxes than the poor, and businesses pay more taxes than households.

UPDATE 2:The Institute for Justice's press release on the verdict is here.