On the Matter of Justice Souter’s House
Justice Souter, of course, is one of the Supreme Court Justices who voted to empower all levels of government with a new power - the power to take by force private property and turn it over to another private owner. This is the essence of the Kelo vs. New London decision. This changed the Constitution from allowing the taking of private property for a public “use” (i.e. a road, a bridge, a school) to the taking of private property for a public “benefit” (i.e. a condominium or a shopping center).
A young man named Logan Darrow Clements has taken it upon himself to lead a crusade to go to Justice Souter’s home town in New Hampshire and have his (Souter’s) home taken by eminent domain in order to become a hotel. He has already gotten the 25 signatures he needed to put the measure on the ballot in March of this year. In fact, nine of ten people approached in Justice Souter’s home town of Weare were willing to sign.
I have mixed feelings about this move. On the one hand I have always stood in opposition to the habit of those on the left to attack personally whomever did not share their views. It is leftists who dig through people’s garbage and mount protests at people’s homes. It is the politics of those who feel that their “oh-so-obviously-right” ends justified any means. It is leftists who vilify, demonize and try to destroy the reputations of those they oppose. I have no reason to believe that Justice Souter made this decision, wrong as it is, for any nefarious or corrupt reason. I believe that he made the decision because he felt it was the correct one.
On the other hand, read what Jay D. Homnick had to say in a recent edition of the American Spectator:
“Here is the dream scenario, the one that would be "more fun than a human being should be allowed to have." Clements wins in the township and Souter sues to get his house back. The case comes before the Supreme Court with Souter forced to recuse himself. Then they vote to overturn Kelo and give their buddy his house back. Thus, Clements who was a suitor to gain the house loses in order for Souter to get clemency; Souter's Pyrrhic victory negates his vote in Kelo and Clements' gambit brings his greater cause the victory.
Whether something like this actually occurs in relation to Souter's house, it remains good advice for conservatives to target Kelo as their first effort to reverse prior misguided verdicts. It has a number of wonderful features: it's pro-little guy as mentioned, it's easy to understand, it's relevant to everyone but a select few wealthy developers (and municipal bureaucrats), and it clearly restores the reasonable meaning of the takings clause; namely, that only governmental needs such as roads and power stations take precedence over private property. Even those who unwisely acquiesced in allowing the "wetlands" to usurp individual ownership will balk at allowing Trump's rights to tower over theirs.”
This dream scenario seems too good to be true; I guess I’ll still come down on the side of a civil society where officials do not have to fear for their lives or homes if they make an unpopular decision. But Justice Souter, we will find a way to reverse this error.