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June 26, 2005

Eminent Domain

I don't know whether the Supreme Court's eminent domain decision was, substantively, a good thing or a bad thing. I don't know whether there are too few obstacles in the way of regional development and redevelopment (and that there should be more obstacles to reduce the impact of corrupt ties between local governments and developers) or whether there are too many obstacles (and too little gets done because opportunities for hold-up are just too great).

I do know that the reasoning of the majority opinion seems to be really dumb.

A correspondent writes:

Re: footnote 6:

And while the City intends to transfer certain of the parcels to a private developer in a long-term lease--which developer, in turn, is expected to lease the office space and so forth to other private tenants--the identities of those private parties were not known when the plan was adopted. It is, of course, difficult to accuse the government of having taken A's property to benefit the private interests of B when the identity of B was unknown.

Well, I guess that proves that anyone who takes the time to read the chapter of Robert Caro's The Power Broker assigned in American History doesn't have enough time to suck up to law school con law professors and deans to get a Supreme Court clerkship; for it seems self-evident that no one with a hand in this opinion has ever read The Power Broker.

I mean, I like retail productivity as much as the next guy. But it does seem a bit fetishistic to sacrifice the Bill of Rights for it. Somebody needs to tell Justice Breyer and his merry band of statists that New Dealers don't control the government any more. This is the Second Gilded Age. And aspiring Robber Barons will parse the decision with care, after first summoning and taking counsel with the shade of Leland Stanford, Sr.

Posted by DeLong at June 26, 2005 05:47 PM