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April 25, 2016

SCOTUS Refuses To Consider Overturning A Takings Clause Case (CBD)

I'm not a lawyer, and I didn't even stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night, but it seems to me that limiting access to the federal court system in cases where the question is a clear Constitutional issue seems...odd.

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires the government to pay just compensation when it takes private property for public use. Yet in the 1985 case of Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, the U.S. Supreme Court significantly undercut the protections from government abuse offered by that constitutional provision, holding that plaintiffs may not file a just compensation lawsuit in federal court until they have first exhausted their compensation claims in state court.

But the court declined to hear Arrigoni Enterprises, LLC v. Durham, a clear challenge to Williamson County, and Justices Thomas and Kennedy(!) were not pleased. Clarence Thomas Faults SCOTUS for Enabling Government Abuse and Undermining the 5th Amendment, and his logic seems unassailable.

In response to the Court's rejection of that petition, Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, filed a pointed dissent, accusing the Court of undermining a core constitutional provision while simultaneously enabling government abuse of property rights. "Both the text of the Takings Clause and the historical evidence cast doubt on Williamson County," Thomas noted. According to Thomas, Arrigoni Enterprises offered a welcome opportunity "to consider whether there are any justifications for the ahistorical, atextual, and anomalous state-litigation rule, and if not, to overrule Williamson County."

The default position of the writers of the Constitution was that government power is dangerous and must be limited. The Takings Clause is one of those portions of the Amendments that seem never to be read, yet are obviously rather important. Ask every a few high school kids what the Fifth Amendment is, and they will tell you that it protects us against self incrimination. But Eminent Domain is a very big deal, as we learned to our dismay in Kelo v. City of New London. Is this SCOTUS consolidating its decision in Kelo, or just one more erosion of our rights?

This is one of the topics that pull me back to Reason. I like that they are immediately suspicious of any limitations on our rights. Yeah, they are mostly nuts, but maybe they are the canary in the coal mine?

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posted by Open Blogger at 06:34 PM

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