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
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