People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Justice Souter's Home To Be Condemned?

Someone must have read this weblog and run with my idea. Here is what I wrote on Thursday:
If I were a Washington DC city councilman, I'd publish Stevens' address in the Washington Post and invite local developers to submit bids for his property. The highest bidder, if the bid meets the Supreme Court requirement of "just compensation," should be handed the deed to his property.

After all, what these geniuses have decreed is this: If a local government can realize more tax revenue by ordering the confiscation of private property (a developer takes possession, scrapes the existing structure, and builds a McDonald's on the site, increasing its value and corresponding tax contribution to the government), so be it. (link)
Then today I read this:
Press Release
For Release Monday, June 27 to New Hampshire media

For Release Tuesday, June 28 to all other media

Weare, New Hampshire (PRWEB) Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land. (link*)
I may have picked a different justice to go after but that is beside the point. I think our Supreme Court justices, all of whom seem to live the cloistered Washington DC life, should get a full understanding of the impact - on a personal level - of their rulings.

I have to say, I'm going to enjoy watching this story unfold.

* I'm not familiar with this site so accept the story with that disclaimer.

On Government Seizure of Private Property

The last word, until further notice, on the Kelo et al v. City of New London et al case comes from the Roanoke Times.
An eminently bad decision on takings

Private property rights are not absolute. If they were, the Fifth Amendment would not have included a mechanism for taking property. But there must be a genuine balance of private property rights and the general welfare.

This decision distorts that balance.

Some Virginia lawmakers were not pleased, and are considering how to draft legislation to restore the balance, at least in this state. They must take care not to tilt the scales too far the other way, though.

The key will be to create a test that honors the fundamental right of ownership while still allowing the use of eminent domain in cases resulting in a broad public benefit, beyond merely an increase in taxes. (link)
That's what I'm sayin'. I'll worry about the tilting at a later point in time. Right now, I just want the scales to be put back in place.

We Still Want It Back

One billion dollars and climbing.
$1 billion surplus becomes issue in governor's race
By Christina Bellantoni, The Washington Times

The financial crisis that prompted Virginia lawmakers to impose the largest tax increase in state history last year has turned into a $1 billion surplus -- and a gubernatorial campaign issue. (
First, let me express my outrage - once again. Mark Warner, the state Democratic party, and seventeen Republican turncoats lied to us about the dire fiscal condition of the state in order to simply increase tax revenue. In my case, they expropriated money from an account that was set aside for my grandchildrens' college education. All of them, because of their having lied to us, deserve our scorn.

Now, where does the current crop of candidates to replace Warner stand?
Mr. [H. Russell Jr.] Potts -- a Republican state senator from Winchester who is running as an independent -- has said that a shortfall in the state pension fund and a lack of funding for health care and education should dispel talk about a surplus.

"There is no surplus. Nothing could be further than the truth," said Mr. Potts, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which pushed for the tax increase in May last year. "Not only do we have bills in the drawer, we have massive bills in the drawer."
"There is no surplus." That'll be news to the treasurer.

Mr. [Tim] Kaine thinks any surplus should go to transportation projects, his campaign spokeswoman, Delacey Skinner, said.

"Generally, those are the kinds [of investments] he feels make a lot of sense," she said. Miss Skinner also said Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, hails last year's tax-reform package because of its "historic" investments in public education, health care and public safety. The $1.2 billion surplus last year allowed the state to make a down payment on improving its ailing roads, a move Mr. Kaine supported.

That's the rub. If we allow them to confiscate our savings, they are going to find ways to spend it. Kaine intends to spend the $1 billion on roads and bridges. If the surplus were $1 trillion, he'd have another list of projects. And will ask for more. That's why it's important that we fight guys like Tim Kaine on every tax and spending issue.
Mr. Kilgore, the Republican gubernatorial nominee and former state attorney general, thinks the surplus proves that last year's tax increases were not necessary, his campaign spokesman, Tim Murtaugh, said.

"The fact that the state's revenues continue to climb with each passing day underscores what Jerry Kilgore was saying last year, which was that the economy was improving, and we should wait to see the numbers before raising taxes unnecessarily," Mr. Murtaugh said.

"His firm belief is that keeping taxes low is the best way to foster economic growth, because people will be able to keep more of what they earn, and businesses will be encouraged to expand and create jobs and opportunity," he said.
Yes. Yes. And hell yes.

Another Supreme Befuddling

I grew up listening to Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, and Florence Ballard, otherwise known as The Supremes. I have to tell you, right about now, their message was a whole lot more coherent than is that of the nine old people occupying space on the Supreme Court who are handing down rulings that are headlined in the New York Times thusly:

Justices Allow a Commandments Display, Bar Others (link)

Say what?

I have had the opportunity over the years of putting together policy information and internal corporate memoranda that were going to be read - and had to be understood - by thousands of employees. My message had to be clear, concise, and unequivocal. The future of our employees depended on their being able to adhere to our company directives.

So how do we follow - even comprehend - rulings from the Supreme Court that advise - in a case involving the display of religious symbols on public property - that it is permissible in some circumstances but not in others? Here but not there? This way but not that?

To the extent that the decisions provided guidelines for the further cases that are all but certain to follow, it appeared to be that religious symbols that have been on display for many years, with little controversy, are likely to be upheld, while newer displays intended to advance a modern religious agenda will be met with suspicion and disfavor from the court.
"To the extent that the decisions provided guidelines ..." These words were well chosen and are reflective of the general reaction to the two rulings that were passed down yesterday. That general reaction? The fact that both sides in the fight over religious displays on public property - the God-fearing and the God-rejecting - claimed victory spoke volumes.

As for the rest of us? Uncertainty. Bewilderment. Disappointment. Pity. This is the best one-line reaction I've read to the Ten Commandments rulings:
Lawless judges cannot abide the sight of fixed laws adorning courts. (link)
However the rulings are interpreted, I think it's time we started thinking in terms of putting age restrictions on Supreme Court membership. We deserve better.

Everybody needs somebody
Everybody's got the right to love*
Now that I understand.
*Link here for more Supremes lyrics