Walk down memory lane, and try to remember the details and merits of a case from just a few short years ago. Heard before the United States Supreme Court in 2005 as one of the most watched and analyzed property-rights decisions in perhaps a decade or more, Kelo v. New London, CT. set a new precedent for the idea or concept of eminent domain.
The liberally led Supreme Court suggested, not only is the state or local government able to seize private property in pursuit of the commonweal, such as building roads and bridges, schools and prisons and the like; government entities are now free to confiscate property under the rubric of and for, the common good, however it would be done in cooperation with, and some would suggest the entitlement mentality of, corporate welfare.
Pfizer is the big bad evil capitalist player being denounced by one and all in this particular little drama.
“In all honesty, I’m not happy about what happened to me,” Ms. Kelo said. But, she added, “With forty three states changing their laws, in that sense I feel we did some good for people across the country.”
The Pfizer property is currently assessed at $220 million. City Councilman Robert M. Pero said the Pfizer complex enjoys incentives allowing the company to pay taxes on 20 percent of that value, while the state pays an additional 40 percent. That arrangement is scheduled to end in 2011, ten years after the complex opened to employ nearly 1,400 people. This happens to be the same time Pfizer, which is currently the city’s biggest taxpayer, expects to complete its withdrawal from the city of approximately 265,000 people, bringing an end to their ten year agreement to pay property taxes at a reduced rate.
“Basically, our economy lost a thousand jobs, but we still have a building,” Councilman Pero said. Then again, he added, “I don’t know who’s going to be looking for a building like that in this economy.”
City residents are forced to be consoled the court had four conservative voices led by Justice Clarence Thomas in the dissenting opinion. Justice Thomas called New London’s plan “a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation.”
Isn't it ironic, when republicans like Justice Thomas are leading the charge against the big bad evil corporations, even as liberals hurl another stereotypical rant against republicans having sold out to corporate interests. They tell us the liberals are always looking out for the little guy. Instead, the USSC led by a single vote majority of liberalism at its very best-- demonstrates the court is quite willing to aid and abet the expansion of power and the influence of whatever level of government entity is in question, whether local, state, or federal.
Widely criticized, the decision spurred states across the country to adopt statutes preventing similar abuses of eminent domain. Scott Bullock, senior attorney at the libertarian minded Institute for Justice, represented the landowners in Kelo vs New London, CT.. Mr. Bullock, said the announcement “really shows the folly of these plans that use massive corporate welfare and abuse eminent domain for private development. They often times fail to live up to expectations."
The liberals on the court expanded the reach of government entities as it applies to eminent domain, and now we live in a world where it is necessary for forty three states to pass laws purporting to protect the very principles of property ownership, that once were givens in a more simple era, a more verbally robust and honest period of our nation's history.
I wonder what it takes, what is required for a stereotype to die, and never be heard from again except perhaps at some future way back party where everyone dresses funny and reminisces. Who knows?