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The silence is deafening

This is truly astonishing. It's one day after the most universally reviled SCOTUS verdict in recent memory, essentially rescinding property rights, and the left-half of the blogosphere is still AWOL. They will no doubt teach this case in history classes years from now, but many liberals are silent because they can't figure out how to blame it on Bush.

Neither Kos nor Josh Marshall nor Oliver Willis would seem to have heard the news yet, because they're all still talking about Karl Rove. It's as if the decision never happened.

Atrios at least acknowledged the ruling, and even put forth an extremely tepid and incomprehensible defense of it, although I confess it eludes me. He seems to be saying, "Yes, it's a bad decision, but it's a good thing the conservative side didn't win, because that would be, well, bad." I'm paraphrasing, of course, but that seems to be the gist of it. No arguments, no reasoning, he's just glad the "conservatives" didn't win. By all means, better for the government to seize your home and hand it over to Wal-Mart than to hand the Republicans a political victory.

And our friend Jill at least had a novel excuse for not discussing it: because my guest blogger asked her to. Still, that's more than we've heard from most port-side bloggers so far.

What bugs liberals most about this case is that it validates conservative fears of activist courts utterly run amok (which the Schiavo case did not do, by the way.) They realize this, yet are unable to defend this egregious ruling on its merits, and are struck dumb and impotent as a result.

Contrary to what many readers have suggested in comments and e-mail, I do not assume that a Bush nominee to the Court will automatically improve the situation. Granted, all four dissenters were appointed by Republican presidents, but so were three of the five in the majority (Ford, Reagan and Bush.) To get an originalist or a strict constructionalist on the high court, being a Republican nominee may be a necessary condition, but is by no means a sufficient one.

That's one reason I want to jettison this unofficial moratorium on "litmus tests." The next judicial nominee to appear before the Senate needs to be grilled on the Kelo case and grilled hard. If that comprises a litmus test, then so be it.

The fight for future judicial nominees just became more important than I could have imagined even a month or two ago. We have to hold our president's feet to the fire to nominate true strict constructionists, and we have to apply as much political pressure as necessary to get them through the Senate.

Strict constructionists can deliver disappointing decisions too, of course, but at least you always know what you're getting -- someone who interprets the letter of the law in a very narrow fashion. If you don't like the verdicts, then change the law. But this kind of unrestrained activism should alarm everyone.

UPDATE: Today's editorial in the New York Times actually defends this abomination, under the headline "The Limits of Property Rights."

Get the subtext here? The Supreme Court majority was all about reasonable "limits," and if you balk at the notion that your home, which you worked for your entire life, can be taken away so that some luxury high-rise can be built, then you're some kind of crazed absolutist.


It totally sucks. Eminent domain as a concept totally sucks. Sometimes, it's actually necessary, perhaps, but even then? Totally sucks. V. eloquent, aren't I? :P

Not that the majority doesn't bear some responsibility? But you might want to direct some of that wrath to Connecticut for not making it clear that such a land grab is impermissable. Their loosely written emininet domain laws made this possible.

Well, the majority opinion does say that states can better control the power of eminent domain. If Connecticut specifically stated that eminent domain cannot be used for commercial property development with less than 50% of the development for public use, then...But Connecticut didn't.

And what are you smoking?! Cloning Thomas. *shudder* Ick! Ick! Ick!

Dang, my first comment went away. I think I must've accidentally deleted it. Fortunately there was nothing interesting in it.

As for what I'm smoking, it could be some of the medicinal funkyweed terminally ill people would be entitled to if there were a few Thomas clones on the High Court. ;-)

PS -- Ya know, given the discontinuity of my deleted post and the spillover from your blog to mine, this thread could be very difficult to follow.

Yes, surely, history classes will debate for years that astonishing conversation between Jill and yourself.

As for the decision, I really didn't know that it was about to be considered so I don't know that much about it, to be honest. On the face of it, it seems like a bad decision, but I am not prepared to have an opinion.

Oh, and I have to think of how to blame it on Bush, which will be pretty hard since he didn't appoint any of the justices making the decision.

"It totally sucks."

Well said, K.

Yeah, it sucks big time. Don't have a blog, but am Left. I can't believe it.

Read Nathan Newman on Kelo to see why liberals should support the decision. I do. He's got a few excellent posts up on the subject - here's one of them. You can click around from there.

Sorry, eRobin. I read your link, but I just don't see it at all. In fact, Newman gives *no* reasons for liberals to support Kelo. He merely makes a few irrelevant comparisons with the rental market and argues that eminent domain abuses are not as bad as other injustices that obtain in today's real estate world. Well that may be, in a practical sense. But he didn't offer one single positive reason why anyone should support Kelo. That's probably because there's nothing good to say about it. Instead, he merely argues that it doesn't suck as bad as most people think. Sorry, I'm unimpressed.

I hope he's right, that the ramifications in the real world will be minor, but even so, it establishes a horrible principle -- a richer entity can claim a poore entity's property simply by virture of the fact that it pays more taxes. If you're not outraged by that, I don't know what kind of liberal you can call yourself.

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