Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Thursday, June 23, 2005
 
Damn: New London Wins

Y'all might recall my outrage at the notion that a city could and would just take away homes using eminent domain, not for the sake of public works but for the sake of private entities who happen to be able to generate higher tax revenue. New London, CT wanted to take away some houses so it could build a housing development and shopping center catering to the employees of the new neighboring facility of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. The residents were fought all the way to the supreme court to keep their cottages. Sadly, I see on Slate that the city of New London Connecticut has won and the homeowners have lost. Looking at a pdf of the decision, I see that the breakdown against me is uncharacteristically Democrat: the majority opinion is Souter, Ginsburg, Stevens, and Breyer, joined by Republican Kennedy; it was Rehnquist, O'Connor, Scalia and Thomas who agreed with me for once.

When I advocate regulating factories that dump chemicals or homeowners that burn things, I'm recognizing that there is no perfect box you can draw around your property. I think a major role of government is to protect those who cannot protect themselves--for example protecting future people who will need to drink the water that flows through the ground beneath your property, and current people who need to breath the air wafts from it. Another role of the government is looking out for the whole public good. If there is no other way to achieve a necessary public good that can be guaranteed to remain a public good (a metro system, say) and is also very likely not become a private asset, then raising the possibility of eminent domain makes some sense to me. It should still be carefully debated and transparently examined by the local community as much as possible, as should any decision made by the state that particularly harms someone. (It's kind of like going to war, that way.) The direct beneficiaries of a metro system or state park is anyone who cares to use it--i.e. the public. The direct beneficiary of a housing development and shopping complex are the owners, not the public. In this case it seems government is not fulfilling the second role while totally abandoning the first role. Sadly, it seems the aging liberal section of the court is assuming the public interst to be automatically equivalent to the government interest. Clearly that isn't always the case: it requires oversight, transparency, an involved citizenry, and some basic attempts at fairness. This is particularly sad since it always seems to me that the judiciary is the branch best equipped for actively keep the two interests aligned. If they think it's automatic, they aren't going to be doing a very good job.
 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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Blogs I Read (Or Try To)
113th Street
american footprints(Nadezhda & Praktike)
ANNA's Diary
Apartment Therapy
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
Dave Barry
The Bellman
Mine's On The 45 (Brimful)
Campaign Desk (CJR)
ChennaiCentral
ClimateBoy
Combing the Sphere
Crooked Timber
Daily Dose of Imagery
The Daily Rhino (Bong Breaker)
Dark Days Ahead
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Atanu Dey on India's Development (Deeshaa)
Daniel Drezner
Ennis
Ephemera
Cyrus Farivar
Finding My Voice
Forsv
Neil Gaiman
Ganesh Blog
Geeky Chic 2.0 (Echan)
Geomblog
Green Ink!
Heliolith
Alexandra Huddleston
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Indeterminacy
India Uncut
InSpiteOfEverything
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter et al
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Jesus Politics
John and Belle Have a Blog
Mark A. R. Kleiman
KnowProse (Taran Rampersad)
1Locana
Maenad (Nori Heikkinen)
Scott McCloud
Mind Without Borders
Electrolite: Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Corey Pein
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Kevin G. Powell
QuakeHelp (South Asian Quake)
Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
Reneebop
Rhinocrisy
Scott Rosenberg(Salon.com)
Rox Populi
Felix(&Rhian)Salmon
samVaad
Nick Schager
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Sepia Mutiny
Amardeep Singh
Snarkmarket (Robin Sloan & Matt Thompson)
South-East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
SreeTips: New To Sree
Steprous (Bear)
Robert Stribley
Subjunctive.net:klog
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
Tech Policy
TiffinBox
A Tiny Revolution
To The Teeth
TreeHugger
Unfogged
VatulBlog
Venk@
Manish Vij
Vinod's Blog
War and Piece
Nollind Whachell
Wonkette
WorldChanging
Matthew Yglesias:Old
Yglesias:Tpmcafe
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham
Ethan Zuckerman
Zwichenzug



Some Categories

Blogs focusing on policy, politics, and national security:
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Daniel Drezner
Eschaton(Atrios)
Green Ink!
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Informed Comment: Juan Cole
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Irregular Analyses
Jesus Politics
Mark A. R. Kleiman
Liberals Against Terrorism(Nadezhda & Praktike)
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
War and Piece
Wonkette
Yglesias:Tpmcafe

Photo Blogs
Daily Dose of Imagery
Ephemera
Alexandra Huddleston
Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
TiffinBox

Columbia Journalism Folks
Apartment Therapy
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
Campaign Desk (CJR)
Ranajit Dam
Cyrus Farivar
Alexandra Huddleston
InSpiteOfEverything
Corey Pein
Nick Schager
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham

Literature, Fiction and Entertainment
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Electrolite: Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Scott McCloud


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