Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Supreme Court Rules Property Rights

  1. Jun 23, 2005 #1

    FredGarvin

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    This ruling makes me very nervous.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050623...PduCM0A;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl
    I must admit nothing but pure contempt for developers, mostly because of the power they already have in my neck of the woods. It is because of their ability to go basically unchecked and the greed of local cities for more tax revenues that urban sprawl is so horribly out of control. This ruling has made it even easier for them to plow over people's homes and put up another half filled strip mall or subdivision of identically ugly, overpriced McMansions. Just what we need.

    I was impressed by the opinions of Sandra Day O'Connor in this case. I think she's right on the mark. The other thing that is surprising in this ruling is what judges ruled against this: Thomas, Scalia, O'Connor and Rehnquist.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 23, 2005 #2

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Well that is the principle of "eminent domain", which has existed since day 1 in the US. The Federal government, each State government, many local governments, and some corporations have the 'right' of eminent domain.

    However, it is predicated upon "reasonable" compensation to the person who is losing their property.

    Unfortunately, this fails when corrupt governemnt officials invoke eminent domain because it will benefit a developer and get them re-elected.

    That is why it is important for the electorate (i.e. public) to be well informed and choose elected officials wisely and carefully.

    Isn't democracy wonderful?
     
  4. Jun 23, 2005 #3
    I just found out about this and being a person looking to buy property in the next few years I find this extremely troubling. This is a very sad day for America. Corporate America 1 American Public 0, game over :frown:
     
  5. Jun 23, 2005 #4

    honestrosewater

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I just saw this too. My stepfather's house was seized and the property was used for part of a fire station, and I thought that was fair. But I thought eminent domain applied to property intended for public use only (highways, fire stations, etc.). ??
     
  6. Jun 23, 2005 #5
    Well, now the "black-robed cult" has decreed from their un-elected position that public use includes private investments used to better the broader communities.

    It's pretty disgusting when you can own a home in the land of the free and the home of the brave only to have it swiped out from under you by developers wanting to throw in a mall with a fountain and the newest super mega multi plex movie theater. Granted, the mall would bring in more $$$ than john and jane doe but what's the real cost? The destruction of a community in order to advance some flood of GAP clothing to the hands of the community---the community consequently displaced to make room for this new eye sore. Ironic isn't it, this idea of destroying a community to enhance a community.

    How does this work then? Well well off community A sees a need to move lower to middle class community B in order to boost community A's property values. There is a little bit of behind the scenes wheeling and dealing resulting in a marginal payout to the families in B in order to suit A's incessant need for convenient Gucci and S-bucks. Sickening.

    This is a definite "read between the lines" interpretation of the 5th amendment and as such is deeply troubling.
     
  7. Jun 23, 2005 #6

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    No! Railroads in the eastern US obtained private property either through eminent domain granted by states, or the states used eminent domain to obtain property for the use of the railroads, where were private (corporate) entities.

    Unfortunately, the American public and most politicians do not know the fine details of Federal, state and local law. It is amazing to go into state archives and find out what the government can do!

    I was trying to start a short-line railroad several years ago, and I had to go back and look at contracts and laws pertaining to the particular right of way. :surprised The legal stuff alone was very discouraging.

    That's when one needs a very good lawyer.
     
  8. Jun 23, 2005 #7

    Pengwuino

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    It also says that...

    Does that mean local judges get a final say?
     
  9. Jun 23, 2005 #8

    Pengwuino

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I think its highly subjective. WHere i live, theres a square mile thats absolute developer heaven. Huge shops, huge name brands, best buy, target, (oddly enough no walmart), jc penny, compusa, ahuge edwards movie theatre, home depot, and lowes and a LOT of other places. What it replaced was absolute dead land. Nothing but dirt, huuuuuuuuuge lots of dirt. It was just an eye sore to the city.

    Conversely, the city, or well, the federal government, took up this land downtown that had some priceless victorian homes but thankfully, they were relocated (to what must be a better part of town compared to where they were originally).

    And another thing that i saw is that, in my city, a LOT of the city is owned by "orange county developers". The problem is they own a lot of property thats just run down dirt plots in really nice parts of town. If this ruling is inevitably extended into the real world, i hope its mainly used to take away these sort of plots of land where the developer doesnt seem to care that the land is going to no use and creating an eyesore for a neighborhood or area or city.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2005
  10. Jun 23, 2005 #9
    This case was not about vast empty fields. This case was about a lower-middle class community---people---being displaced in favor of new development. The SCOTUS ruled that homeowners can lose their little pieces of Americana---you and I included---at the whims of 'Local Officials'.
     
  11. Jun 23, 2005 #10
    It's good that Republican judges are at least acting like Republicans and trying to protect private property rights...
     
  12. Jun 23, 2005 #11
    I feel your pain. I lived in a sleepy little community on the NW side of suburbain Detroit. My house is (I used the word lived because the sleepy portion has been replaced with urban sprawl) less than 10 minutes away from a very large clean modern mall which in turn is flanked by not one, not two, but three strip malls. Boardes, CompUSA, The Apple Store, you name it are all within 10 minutes of my house. Gosh 10 minutes is too long of a drives these days I guess because over the last 1.5 years my quite area has been over run by bulldozers and new strip malls featuring the same shops already available from a short 10 minute drive. There is no good reason to open a Walgreens or CVS up when another is in such close proximity. It's sprawl and an eye sore. I'd rather have the new strip mall replaced by a natural field untouched a wild than to be subjected with another Quickie-Mart.
     
  13. Jun 23, 2005 #12

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    That probably means that it will be dealt with in the state court system, i.e. through state appellate and state Supreme court. It is the States which define the power of eminent domain within the state's boundaries. The State Law determines what powers are granted to political entities within the state.
     
  14. Jun 23, 2005 #13

    Pengwuino

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Property is property according to the law. And where does the ruling say "lower-middle class communities get to lose their houses"???? This is all property everywhere no matter who owns it.

    And to everyone who thinks its the "American people" who lost, your wrong. Every decision must stand the test of the US Dollar and if you really care, you could go out and protest with your money or time against anything that happens. It happened here a while back. New developer wanted to build this store in a historical area and the people protested and the local officials said no. They know a big city development company isnt going to get them re-elected. Protest with your wallets guys, not with your internet.
     
  15. Jun 23, 2005 #14

    FredGarvin

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I agree with the premise in this case Astro, but in practice we know it will not be in the best interests of the general public.

    I like what justice O'Connor wrote in her response:
    IMO, the local level politicians are the easiest to be swayed and have influence over. They are also the ones that would be most probable to develop petty grudges against individuals. This simply does not do anyone any good.

    I agree completely and I think this will be a worsening trend. I could never think about living in the city I grew up in simply because the city refuses to let people build middle class houses. They are all the $500k+ mcmansions that are all beige. All of this in the name of city taxes.

    Faust....what "sleepy" community in the burbs do you live? It is in my neck of the woods I bet!
     
  16. Jun 23, 2005 #15

    FredGarvin

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    The case before the court was about a group of homeowners and small businesses in Connecticut that ARE being displaced. The ruling in this particular case seals their fate. However, in the rest of the country, it can be seen as a logical conclusion.
     
  17. Jun 23, 2005 #16
    Fred:

    I'm in Wixom for a few months more at least. Then I'm migrating south to another sprawling pseudo metropolis. Novi---near 12 Oaks---is nothing but row upon row of the same house with different siding. Oh, some do opt for the copper front porch over hang while others plant a white gazebo in the back: the houses are all the same though. I grew up in a farming community. My childhood home was right on lake Erie in an area where houses were built one at a time over a time span of a century. Most of the houses were actually built in the 30's to 50's with the occasional new built and 100+ year old farm house thrown in for good measure. The new trend in Mini-mansions is sad because these cookie cutter house remove the character from a community; moreover, the 50 years needed to grow a good Michigan Maple leaves these yards empty and uninviting IMHO.

    It's the old farming communities or slightly run down areas with these old house that are in danger as I see it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2005
  18. Jun 23, 2005 #17

    FredGarvin

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I grew up in Novi! You are in my hood. I live in Commerce now. Believe it or not, Novi and Wixom were farming communities when I was growing up. I lived across the street from a horse farm (now a McMansion subdivision). It became the running joke that our city was where they plowed down all the trees and named the streets after them.

    The fact is that the local governments can't say boo to developers because, if they do, they get taken to court and sued. Sadly enough, the developers have pretty much won every court case.
     
  19. Jun 23, 2005 #18

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The point is that the "political leaders", who are ELECTED by the supposedly INFORMED public, get to decide or perhaps get to appoint those who decide whose property will be confiscated. The problem is when some politicians make a decision on "personal interest", rather than "public interest." Proving what goes on in the mind of anyone (i.e. personal motivation) is virtually impossible.

    If one does not like the LAW, then elect the appropriate leaders who will enact fair laws and see that those laws will be carried out fairly.

    We had a case where a number of people lost homes (some living there for 40 years) so a local road could be widened to 6 lanes from 2 lanes. I went back through the planning documents and public hearing documents, and found that the original plans called for 4 lanes, which meant several homes could have been spared. However, the plans were changed from 4 lanes to 6 lanes, but no one could tell me when and how that happened. :grumpy:

    Furthermore, the company which one the bid to do the construction, did sub-standard work that had to be redone. Nobody from the transportation department bothered to inspect or overcheck the work to make sure it was done right in the first place.

    BTW, the local Republican leader was indicted and convicted in Federal Court on racketeering and corruption charges. Several charges were dismissed. Not to worry though, several Democratic politicians have also been indicted and convicted for corruption in the past.

    Bottom line - chose political leaders wisely. Be informed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2005
  20. Jun 23, 2005 #19

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    That isn't going to matter, if you are just a few homeowners and seizing your property helps out the rest of the district, no politician is going to risk their career for a few people, he's going to go along with whatever the majority of the voters are concerned with. Public opinion is what you have to get on your side, the politicians will follow.
     
  21. Jun 23, 2005 #20

    Les Sleeth

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Nothing in recent history has worried more than this ruling, not even the Iraq war. In the past there has usually been a balance of power where congress, or the courts, or the executive branch can impede the majority's obsessions and excesses.

    To me, it is might makes right at the expense of individual rights. There had to have been a more collaborative, individual-rights-preserving way to bring about the "ends" this ugly "means" was aiming for.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Supreme Court Rules Property Rights
Loading...