TeeJaw Blog

In The Actions of Ordinary People Lie The Preservation Of Freedom

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 11: 31 PM

Fifth Amendment, United States Constitution, 12/15/1791:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Emphasis Added.

Five years ago in 2005 the United States Supreme Court rendered its decision in Kelo v. City of New London, Connecticut and stood the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution on its head. The majority ruling was by four liberals (Stevens, Ginsburg, Souter, Breyer) plus Kennedy. The dissent was by three conservatives (Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas) plus O’Connor. The case held for the first time in American history that the Constitution permits the taking of private property not only for “public” use, but for private use as well. For 214 years Americans believed that private property could only be taken for public use with just compensation to the owner.

This arbitrary decision by the highest court in the land is the most despised decision ever rendered by the Supreme Court and that includes Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) and Roe v. Wade (1973). Dred Scott may have brought more opprobrium on the court in the long run but Kelo kindled a firestorm of denunciation immediately that has continued and will continue until a future Supreme Court overrules it. Roe v. Wade has brought disrepute on the court for acting beyond any imaginable Constitutional principle but that decision at least has, or once had, a large percentage of the people cheering for it. Kelo is condemned by nearly everyone, the only exception being those few individuals, corporations and organizations who stand to benefit financially from having the full power of government to assist them in the taking of private property for private use.

This video shows the heroic actions of the Institute for Justice in opposing Kelo and marshaling reaction to it in the states. Nothing better demonstrates that our freedom depends on the grass roots involvement of ordinary people for its preservation. Liberty must be constantly defended against government attack and not even the Supreme Court, our supposed guardian of the Constitution, can be counted on to stand by its oath and duty. If governments are established by people to protect them from each other, the people may look only to themselves for protection from the government. Kelo has been the catalyst for a reawakening to that reality.

Further reading on Kelo: Property Rights Five Years After Kelo

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