Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Compare and Contrast: Kelo / Heller

Two relatively recent court cases, Kelo v New London and Heller v DC were both basically about the rights of the individual vs the rights/powers of the state.

The Kelo case basically ruled that the state can confiscate your property w/o compensation for whatever reason they see fit.

Heller ruled that the right of the individual to own firearms is not dependent on membership in a state militia.

Looking at the justices for the cases makes a stark contrast. All four judges who ruled against Heller also voted FOR state confiscation in Kelo. These would be Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer.

Two of the justices, Scalia and Thomas, voted for the rights of the individual in both cases. The other two dissenting Kelo justices, Rehnquist and O'connor, were replaced by Roberts and Alito for Heller and both supported the right of the individual.

The final vote? Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. He voted FOR the state in Kelo and against the state in Heller.

Since then, with McDonald v Chicago on the horizon, Souter has been replaced by another Statist, Sotomayor. No others are 'expected' to retire before the case and groups like the Brady Campaign are already conducting damage control in an expected loss.

What a difference 1 vote makes.


Jay21 said...

Ironically, Heller provides the citizen with a way to stand against Kelo. I'm just sayin.

Mose Jefferson said...

Excellent post. It is way too easy for me to focus all of my attention on the Executive and Legislative branches.

Mike W. said...

Not that I agree with the Courts holding in Kelo, but IIRC the taking was with "just compensation" not without.

The key issue wasn't one of compensation, but rather whether the government could force unwilling landowners out of their homes in exchange for said compensation.

The other major issue was what might constitute "public use." Prior cases said that blighted communities could be taken for public use, while Kelo said land could be taken for "economic development" which is a far easier standard for the government to satisfy.

Of course that's just my interpretation and I'm not a lawyer.

Thirdpower said...

In some states (as was the case in Kelo) they get around 'just compensation' by condemning the property no matter the condition. Hence you take whatever they offer you or you get nothing.

Never mind the fact that the development never occurred and the properties taken are just empty lots.

Crotalus said...

Kelo was about "Eminent Domain", and I believe that they were fairly compensated, though I could be mistaken. The sticking point was that "Eminent Domain" is for public USE, such as a road, or park. New London abused it by taking Kelo's land so they could turn it over to a private developer as a way to increase their tax base--so-called "public GOOD". The Supremes erred terribly when they supported New London, thus expanding the concept of "Eminent Domain".

However, if Thirdpower is right, then the City of New London was even more underhanded than I thought.