Sotomayor’s Disdain for Private Property

If you thought Kelo was bad, Obama’s Supreme Court nominee upheld an arguably even more offensive land grab in Didden v. Village of Port Chester. All eminent domain is a violation of property rights, and there is no such thing as “just compensation” when the seller is unwilling and the buyer is the compelled taxpayer. But in this case, there was not even a pretense of “public use” or “public benefit” at all. The government stole from an owner who wanted to build a CVS pharmacy to give the land to another party to build a Walgreens pharmacy. Reportedly, the judges didn’t even humor this case with a thoughtful deliberation.

As Alexander Cockburn has pointed out, all the liberals on the Supreme Court sided with eminent domain perversity in Kelo. Although one could argue this was not properly a federal issue, states rights was not their rationale, nor are they known for respecting the limits of federal power, as was seen in Raich, also mentioned by Cockburn. That was the decision where all the liberals, along with Kennedy and Scalia, despotically upheld the right of the federal government to override California’s relatively liberal medicinal marijuana laws.

Supreme Court picks on the left tend to have little compunction about expansive federal power or domestic tyranny. On some issues, they tend to be better than the right – especially criminal justice procedure and presidential war powers – and so I prefer a “balanced” court, all things being equal, with a swing justice with some libertarian sympathies. This has all made me reluctant to comment much on her nomination.

We can never know exactly how a justice will behave once on the highest Court, but Sotomayor’s disrespect for private property rights and due process certainly gives us no reason to expect a change for the better.

Anthony Gregory is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the Independent books American Surveillance and The Power of Habeas Corpus in America.
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