Althouse-inspired thoughts on Kelo
I dig the Althouse. I respect the Althouse. But I often disagree with the Althouse. Yesterday I scolded her for slacking when she said she may not post about Kelo because all that could be said had been said.
Today she gave her take. In short, she thinks the Supreme Court did well.
(In long: The Althouse writes directly, clearly, and fairly. By fairly I mean she doesn't sugar her medicine. She tells it as she sees it, either without editorializing or without trying to justify or disguise her own editorializing. When I read such writing it clears my mind. Her posts are also fact filled, so the field she cleared with her prose style is then well seeded. (I provide the bullshit- er, fertilizer, myself.) ANYWAY---- the point is I like a lot of what I write in her comment section.)
I assume she is right about the points of law, of course, but believe she is wrong to agree with the decision. I put my reasons in her comments section, and I'm cutting and pasting them below. Click here to read her original post.
Thanx for your thoughts on the case. Like many others I am disappointed that you agree with it.
I feel it is a power grab by and for the judiciary. Kennedy basically said that "public use" is some amorphous thing that can't be defined but he, and other wise judges like him, will know it when they see it.
Rulings like this, rulings that empower judges and make the law more ambiguous, are wrong.
This may be a dumb analogy, but I'll use it anyway... Whenever they make a new NFL rule people talk about how it will help offenses or make injuries less likely or whatever... but I judge the rule primarily by whether or not it asks the officials to make a judgment call. Judgment calls make things worse in the NFL. They lead to inconsistency- in effect to different rules being used at different times and for different people. This applies to laws as well, I think.
Aside from that- this ruling will have terrible consequence. First, the fact that you don't know what a judge will decide does NOT act as a warning to developers or local councils... it favors the rich- it favors those with more to lose. Rich people can chance litigation poor cannot.
Beyond that, it takes less than 20k to bribe a county councilman- and if you've bribed one you've bribed them all since they generally support each other's bribes. So for 20k of risk a developer can reap millions! I haven't heard of judges being bribed much but the mere threat of litigation will make most poor (blighted) homeowners give up without a fight.
I don't know what kind of fantasy world Kennedy lives in- where developers don't use intimidation or bribe local officials.
Anyway, thanx again. And thanx for providing a comment section for me to express the frustration, too.
Kevin, in the comments, says it better than I did:
I wouldn't have used the NFL analogy but I see where you were going. Simply, the Supreme Courts exists to make those murky law clear. If they do something that doesn't clear up and issue or further darken it - they're not doing thier job. It's just that simple.
And G, a commenter on Ann's site, brings up a great point.
What I, and many others, find objectionable about the Kelo decision is its interpretation of the words "public use". What you call nuance, I see as self-serving semantics. "Public use" simply does not mean "public benefit", neither now nor in the 1700s. If the framers had meant "public benefit" they would have said it. The Constitution was not written to make governing easier, but harder, and twisting the definitions of the words does no one a service.