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May 26, 2009

Another Sotomayor Dismissal

The Didden case makes Kelo look downright conservative.

The facts:

In 1999 Port Chester established a redevelopment area, in which new projects could be built only after getting approval from a village-designated private individual, Gregory Wasser, to whom the municipality inexplicably delegated its regulatory authority. In 2003 two owners of a plot within the redevelopment zone, Bart Didden and Domenick Bologna, asked Wasser for permission to build a CVS pharmacy. According to Didden and Bologna, Wasser responded: Either pay me $800,000 to build, give me a piece of the action, or I'll have the village take the property. The day after they spurned the offer, Port Chester did indeed start the takings process. Wasser then arranged for Walgreen to develop the site.

This little episode represents a sorry example of what political actors can legally do with unchecked condemnation power. Why, one might ask, wasn't Wasser's land grab an unconstitutional taking for private purposes? (Didden sees it as extortion; Wasser defends his actions as promoting urban renewal.)

The ruling from Sotomayor's Second Circuit? The One-Paragraph Wonder strikes again:

[T]he Second Circuit panel on which Sotomayor sat did not raise an eyebrow. Its entire analysis reads as follows: "We agree with the district court that [Wasser's] voluntary attempt to resolve appellants' demands was neither an unconstitutional exaction in the form of extortion nor an equal protection violation."

Note that the opinion was unsigned, and we have no evidence that Sotomayor wrote it. But she was on the panel, and she agreed with it.


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posted by Ace at 05:40 PM

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