THEY DO IT ALL FOR YOU, BUT LORDIE DON"T GET ON THEIR BAD SIDE

I generally go with the conventional wisdom and list the Dred Scott decision as the Worst Supreme Court Decision Ever, but Holy Shit is this Kelo decision a doozy or what? I always knew the government could use Eminent Domain to dispossess us, but never have I seen such bald-faced endorsement of greed, not since the Court declared that corporations have the same rights as a person.

In 1886, the Supreme Court in "Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad" Chief Justice Waite wrote: "The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does."

Betcha didn't know that, did you? The Fourteenth Amendment was meant to protect freed slaves: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The Santa Clara decision meant that you have to treat a corporate entity as you would a person. Catch being, a corporation is effectively immortal; when one corporate lackey dies, ten more shall take its place. You are not immortal. You might go to court to stop a corporation from paving over a favorite tree, but their lawyers don't really have to win, they just have to wait you out... (A favorite trick around here is to cut down the trees, put in the parking lot, then apologize, pay a fine, and plant some saplings.)

I guess with Kelo, the gloves are off between the private homeowner and the legions of Corporate Man.

Sadly, no surprise here-- when you grow up on John D. MacDonald novels, you can't have many illusions about real-estate developers-- but even some
  • Republican bloggers
  • see this for what it is.
    Decisions made in a panic are almost always bad decisions. A lot of city fathers in an economic panic would sacrifice their own daughters to a volcano, if they thought it would attract developers. Wait till the dust clears from the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast; early reports say only 30% of the contracts are going to local businesses.
    My interests are more literary than political, and I see the betrayal of Kelo and the others as another case of people who thought they were secure in the American social contract, until they found themselves on the losing side of an issue. I think of the middle class families at Love Canal, or the dairy farmers in Michigan when the PBB scandal broke.
    We all expect the poor to be run over, but just wait till the Kelo decision bites someone prominent in the ass. I'm trying to get Wal-Mart excited about building in Georgetown...


    See also: Supreme Court: Oregon's Right-to-Die Case

    4 comments:

    Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

    It just occured to me that in Dred Scott you have the court declaring that a human being wasn't a person-- well, 3/5 of one anyway (they counted the slaves when it came time to assign House representation)...
    And thirty years later in "Santa Clara", the court declares that a thing can be a person... We call this the "Velveteen Rabbit" clause...
    It's all more than my teeming brain can dream...

    Taocat said...

    Maybe we should call King George II the "Commandeer"-in-Chief. And it's a sure bet that Harriet wouldn't overturn that decision. Did Georgie boy learn nothing from appointing a Horse Judge to head up FEMA that now he wants to appoint Harriet to the Supreme Court?

    Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

    I've asked the lawyers in our circle about Roberts and Heinz and after they finish frothing at the mouth, the consensus seems to be a mental shrug, that GW could have done much worse, as his father did when he gave us [ shudder ] Thomas...
    (the demon inside me that laughs at human folly finds it hilarious that Republicans, who have always had a hair up their butt about affirmative action, would pretend that Clarence Thomas was chosen for his jurisprudence).
    That Shrub nominated a crony like Heinz is no surprise. Maybe they'll both surprise the world and be wild cards like Suiter. Word of mouth -- three degrees of separation removed-- from a lawyer who used to be a neighbor of Roberts is that he's a decent guy who might, when called on by history to defend the Constitution, pick up his chin and feel compelled to do the right thing (something Rehnquist failed to do re. segregation for years and years). The ultra right hates Heinz too, which i take as a good sign. Rehnquist is not going to be much missed by me, though i dug the Gilbert and Sulivan stripes he affected on his sleeves.

    Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

    April, 2006: Counting the days until Kelo is applied to the homeowners dispossessed by Katrina. If they thought their government had abandoned them before, wait until they get in the way of some big developer. 5..4...3...2...