Sotomayor's Bias against Private Property; Approving 'Extortion' through Eminent Domain

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 5, 2009 | Go to article overview

Sotomayor's Bias against Private Property; Approving 'Extortion' through Eminent Domain


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

An occasional series

If you thought Judge Sonia Sotomayor's controversial stances on racial issues were problematic, you should get a gander at the Supreme Court nominee's apparent hostility to property rights.

Judge Sotomayor served as the senior judge on one 2006 case, Didden v. Village of Port Chester, which respected University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein described as about as naked an abuse of government power as could be imagined. Her judicial panel's ruling might be the worst violation of property rights ever approved by a federal appeals court. It is part of a pattern of Judge Sotomayor's pro-government rulings that run roughshod over the most basic of private property rights.

In the Didden ruling, as in the Supreme Court's infamous Kelo v. New London decision, the government used its constitutionally limited power of eminent domain to force one private owner to turn over land (for a fee) to give it to a private developer. Yet the Didden case was even worse than the Kelo one. When the town of New London, Conn., took Susette Kelo's home - a rank injustice - the town at least did so after public hearings. The Village of Port Chester, N.Y., took Bart Didden's land without a public hearing.

New London took the land around Ms. Kelo's house in order to change it from residential use to a commercial use that purportedly was for the public good. Port Chester, to the contrary, did not claim to change the land use for the public good. Instead, it merely gave the land to a private developer who wanted to use it for the same purpose, a pharmacy, as the original owners. …

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