Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: Supreme Court OK's seizure of personal property  (Read 6512 times)

InVinoVeritas

  • LSD Obsessed
  • *****
  • Posts: 5550
  • Fine! I shall also fix zee hobo suit!
    • AOL Instant Messenger - NVinoVeritasChi
    • View Profile
Re: Supreme Court OK's seizure of personal property
« Reply #50 on: June 25, 2005, 02:00:07 PM »
How about a church? Certainly they aren't profitable, and a McDonalds would yeild far more tax revenues on the land. What if that is part of the Government's economic revitalization plan for the area? Should the Government be able to raze a church to squeeze some money out of the land?

i'm not sure if you were merely posing a hypothetical or trying to be prophetic, but i did read about an instance in which land owned by a church was threatened with eminent domain, and the proposed development for the church-owned land was to be a Costco.

http://www.etchalon.com/becket/index.php/article/126.html

St. Shaun

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 885
  • Yes, I am this pretty.
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Supreme Court OK's seizure of personal property
« Reply #51 on: June 25, 2005, 03:41:46 PM »
I just want to point out the judges that signed off on the decision and ones that dissented.  You'll notice that O'Conner wrote the dissent which was concurred by Lindquist, Thomas, and Scalia. 

Before you start going off on capitalist corruption, notice that it's the liberal judges who passed this one.  Thought I'd point that out.
You can't make everyone happy...
but you can sure piss everyone off.

BoscoBreaux

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 789
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Supreme Court OK's seizure of personal property
« Reply #52 on: June 25, 2005, 05:42:25 PM »
I just want to point out the judges that signed off on the decision and ones that dissented.  You'll notice that O'Conner wrote the dissent which was concurred by Lindquist, Thomas, and Scalia. 

Before you start going off on capitalist corruption, notice that it's the liberal judges who passed this one.  Thought I'd point that out.


This issue was already discussed
I think you got it wrong--Thomas, Scalia, and Renquist (or Lindquist) were arguing from the perspective of the wealthy!!!!!!!!!!

I'd suggest that  the issue involved, in the trio's view, wasn't whether the "little guy" can have his home seized in the service of the interests of big business. Rather, the issue here was whether wealthy landowners can have the government seize the property in the service of big business, rather than letting the wealthy landowners rook the business for every last penny they can get.

Do poor people own property? No. Do rich people? Absolutely--lots of it. Vacation houses, rental real estate, apartment buildings, and thousands of acres of prime real estate. (Just go to California where just about anything over 100 acres is owned by wealthy persons who fully intend to sell to big business at high costs..eventually.) The holding in this case wasn't narrow--it wasn't that the Gov can take the little homes of the few working Joes. The decision has far greater significance to wealthy landowners.

Of course, O'Connor, a moderate, argued from a realist's view, and in my view of things, was correct. But the arguments made were ones which should have been applied equally to the dozens of other cases for which these same judges were, in my view, incorrect.

Intuition

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 719
  • We wander down darkened pathways in a daze.
    • View Profile
Re: Supreme Court OK's seizure of personal property
« Reply #53 on: June 25, 2005, 10:51:01 PM »
The best answer is for states to enact laws that prohibit cases like this. I know Florida already has a law which limits the use of eminent domain to seize land. I believe several other states have similar laws.

In a legal sense, this decision makes sense. Read the decision, read the cases it references. Economic improvement is a reasonable public use of land.


Of course, the smart thing would be for the owners to just sell to the developers anyway. I will almost guarantee that the developers will pay more for the land directly than if the local government invokes eminent domain.

After Kelo you are probably right that a owner should sell ASAP. Before Kelo you might not want to sell because you really believed the taking of your property wasn't proper and no amount of money (or at least no amount that wasn't stratospheric) would make it worthwhile for you to move. I also wonder how much incentive developers will have to bargain in good faith after Kelo. If you know the gov't could seize the property with few roadblocks and sell the land to you at a lower rate, what incentive do you have to come up with a more expensive deal bargained with the land owner?

I think real estate developers would still rather bargain with landowners instead of local government. You cut out the middle man and everyone can make a little more money. I'm sorry, but I truly don't understand the whole "no amount of money would make it worthwhile for you to move" argument. I'm not picking on your personally, because I feel like this is a very common sentiment in our country today.

My problem with that argument is that it's based on the idea that current conditions are always better than any future potential living conditions. People get comfortable living in an area, in the same house, for 20+ years and they don't feel like moving. But they don't realize that if they sell for a profit and move elsewhere, they will most likely have the money to have a better life. It boggles my mind. Of course, I'm the guy who doesn't believe in the sentimental value of any material good. Every material good is on a par with every other material good. They all exist in the same way. If they offer you the same utility, I cannot fathom preferring one material good to another.

Intuition

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 719
  • We wander down darkened pathways in a daze.
    • View Profile
Re: Supreme Court OK's seizure of personal property
« Reply #54 on: June 25, 2005, 10:56:29 PM »

In a legal sense, this decision makes sense. Read the decision, read the cases it references. Economic improvement is a reasonable public use of land.


Of course, the smart thing would be for the owners to just sell to the developers anyway. I will almost guarantee that the developers will pay more for the land directly than if the local government invokes eminent domain.

Of course, any decision can be justified in any way by any court by referencing cases which, they argue, are binding to the case. Of course, there are dozens of other cases that could be cited to lead one to believe that the minority opinion "makes sense" from a common law or Constitutional perspective.

If economic concerns govern who can own property and who can't, it has potentially scary results. For example, lets say you own 10 acres in Napa, California, on which you plant maybe 80 acres of Gamay grapes. Let's say that Constellation Brands wants to start a winery on that land and uproot your vines and instead plant Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. According to this ruling, the Government can seize your property and let the corporation use it for its commercial venture which it believes will be more profitable, and hence more profitable in regard to tax revenues. Because there is no land of that size available (normally) in Napa, you have to leave the town, lest you wish to rent a house on apartment on no acreage.

How about a church? Certainly they aren't profitable, and a McDonalds would yeild far more tax revenues on the land. What if that is part of the Government's economic revitalization plan for the area?  Should the Government be able to raze a church to squeeze some money out of the land?

1. I'm not quite sure that any decision can be justified by citing past cases. Let's be careful how we use absolute language here (I'm probably guilty of absolutel language myself, but it doesn't get us anywhere in the discussion).

2. So...why not sell your land to Constellation Brands? If you hold the last remaining property available like yours, then the company will most likely pay well above general market value for the land. But the case at issue will let them skip that step and seize your land through eminent domain, right? Well, first, central to the current case is that New London, CT has a detailed and thorough economic development plan to outline why they believe the purchase of this land is necessary. Second, I stand by the proposition that any commercial venture would rather leave the local government out of their plans entirely. If nothing else, it will save the company on legal costs. All you have to do is approach the company and make them an offer. They'll take it, you'll make a nice chunk of change, and then retire in the Bahamas.

samt

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Re: Supreme Court OK's seizure of personal property
« Reply #55 on: June 25, 2005, 11:49:28 PM »
   These arguments are fun and I do appreciate them having spent undergrad sloughing through Philosophy classes having to read Wittgenstein and translated Chinese religious texts I think we should bring it back to home.
 
   1. 99& of us are not lawyers or aspiring law students
   2.  We grow up with an understanding that the Constitution protects our basic rights as citizens
   3.  We now no longer have the right to own land without fear of a zealous entrepreneur or corporation with money and political connections being able to obtain our land, period.
   I don't know where the rest of you are from but here in the South where I live not a week goes by where you don't read or hear about collusion of the wealthy to do things most ordinary people disagree with or blatant corruption in the government (run a google search on the "Tennessee Waltz" scandal for fun).  People have always found ways to @#!* people, always will.  Dog and pony shows and abstract arguments aside, getting screwed in the ass is still getting screwed in the ass. As we no longer have direct constitutional protection of or basic rights to own land without a legitimate reason for the public good anyone with enough creativity, money, power, and patience can get what they want. 
    What do you guys think the long term implications of this are?  What rights will we lose next but not really care about because the economy's making us not REALLY worry about our upcoming Stafford and private loans?  I know what I sound like when I say this but I have to say it anyway, Picture a time when the economy is *&^% and the only piece of equity you have left is your house which can be taken by an individual or class of individuals who have both more political and monetary capital than you.  Being as how no one can accurately predict the future, we should all think of what the REAL implications of this decision is, not now but in the future.

Intuition

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 719
  • We wander down darkened pathways in a daze.
    • View Profile
Re: Supreme Court OK's seizure of personal property
« Reply #56 on: June 26, 2005, 12:16:18 AM »
Good points in general, as I agree that the implications of this decision can have far-reaching effects. As far as your 3rd proposition stated, I don't think it's entirely true across the board, just yet. We can still lobby our local governments to enact laws which define "public use" in a way we see fit. Just because SCOTUS says it's Constitutional to include economic plans in the definition of public use does not disallow us from excluding the idea from any local definition. SCOTUS has and always will defer to local legislatures in situations like this. So, let's use the power of our local legislatures to the fullest.

If not, why not just become rich and powerful, so YOU will be the one paying off local government officials and keeping a couple power brokers in your pocket at every turn?! That's my plan.

BoscoBreaux

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 789
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Supreme Court OK's seizure of personal property
« Reply #57 on: June 26, 2005, 12:52:02 PM »

In a legal sense, this decision makes sense. Read the decision, read the cases it references. Economic improvement is a reasonable public use of land.


Of course, the smart thing would be for the owners to just sell to the developers anyway. I will almost guarantee that the developers will pay more for the land directly than if the local government invokes eminent domain.

Of course, any decision can be justified in any way by any court by referencing cases which, they argue, are binding to the case. Of course, there are dozens of other cases that could be cited to lead one to believe that the minority opinion "makes sense" from a common law or Constitutional perspective.

If economic concerns govern who can own property and who can't, it has potentially scary results. For example, lets say you own 10 acres in Napa, California, on which you plant maybe 80 acres of Gamay grapes. Let's say that Constellation Brands wants to start a winery on that land and uproot your vines and instead plant Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. According to this ruling, the Government can seize your property and let the corporation use it for its commercial venture which it believes will be more profitable, and hence more profitable in regard to tax revenues. Because there is no land of that size available (normally) in Napa, you have to leave the town, lest you wish to rent a house on apartment on no acreage.

How about a church? Certainly they aren't profitable, and a McDonalds would yeild far more tax revenues on the land. What if that is part of the Government's economic revitalization plan for the area?  Should the Government be able to raze a church to squeeze some money out of the land?

1. I'm not quite sure that any decision can be justified by citing past cases. Let's be careful how we use absolute language here (I'm probably guilty of absolutel language myself, but it doesn't get us anywhere in the discussion).

2. So...why not sell your land to Constellation Brands? If you hold the last remaining property available like yours, then the company will most likely pay well above general market value for the land. But the case at issue will let them skip that step and seize your land through eminent domain, right? Well, first, central to the current case is that New London, CT has a detailed and thorough economic development plan to outline why they believe the purchase of this land is necessary. Second, I stand by the proposition that any commercial venture would rather leave the local government out of their plans entirely. If nothing else, it will save the company on legal costs. All you have to do is approach the company and make them an offer. They'll take it, you'll make a nice chunk of change, and then retire in the Bahamas.

As they say, if a lawyer can't find a case, any case, on which to base such a cause of action (we are talking E.D. claims here, so there isn't isolated statutory analysis involved, he is either 1) lazy, 2) incompetent, or 3) both lazy and incompetent. What you deem absolutism I deem realism. That isn't to say the argument will be particularly earth-shatteringly obvious and universally accepted, but that isn't necessary for law, nor the courts--particularly the Supreme Court.

Of course, you added something to the hypothetical that I did not--the assumption that the Napa landowner is concerned about money. This isn't a concern, necessarily, of the parties involved in the SC case, nor will it be involved in the countless of such cases that will stem from the decision. Sure, having Constellation Brands breathing down your need and salivating at the thought of owning your land will make you wealthy, but if you own 10 acres in Napa you, by definition, are probably already wealthy, and even if you are not, if you wanted to be you'd merely sell to someone without the concern of E.D. seizure.

I disagree on one point, based on experience. When a business has the capacity to secure anything by going through the Government, it is not easier--that I will concede--but because that is an option, that is a bargaining tool that business can use to pressure a purchase at their terms, not the terms of the seller. Let's say CB offers the Napa landowner $10 million dollars for the property. Does the possibility that the government may seize the property and settle for what the state considers "fair market value" (in CA that tends to be 80 cents on the dollar nowadays) make acceptance more or less likley? I'd say logic dictates that you'd be able to get more out of the business if CB had absolutely no option other than offering more money if it wanted to get the property.

BoscoBreaux

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 789
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Supreme Court OK's seizure of personal property
« Reply #58 on: June 26, 2005, 01:00:49 PM »
Good points in general, as I agree that the implications of this decision can have far-reaching effects. As far as your 3rd proposition stated, I don't think it's entirely true across the board, just yet. We can still lobby our local governments to enact laws which define "public use" in a way we see fit. Just because SCOTUS says it's Constitutional to include economic plans in the definition of public use does not disallow us from excluding the idea from any local definition. SCOTUS has and always will defer to local legislatures in situations like this. So, let's use the power of our local legislatures to the fullest.

If not, why not just become rich and powerful, so YOU will be the one paying off local government officials and keeping a couple power brokers in your pocket at every turn?! That's my plan.

You are right, in a sense. After all, even if Roe v. Wade were overturned, and the SC no longer found "privacy rights" to reside in the Constitution, the vast majority of states will still permit abortion. Then, as you point out, such an issue would be for the legislature to decide.
But, the implications for a state criminalizing it, or even its discussion (think Griswold v CT), tends to violate what many people think of when we contemplate whether the Constitution gives us true freedom, and from what does it give us freedom?

Intuition

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 719
  • We wander down darkened pathways in a daze.
    • View Profile
Re: Supreme Court OK's seizure of personal property
« Reply #59 on: June 26, 2005, 06:52:59 PM »
Too many good points to cite them all Bosco. Been a while since I enjoyed a discussion as much as this one.

As I mentioned previously, my goal is to become wealthy and powerful enough so that local governments will be helping out my businesses rather than taking my house.  ;D