Seven years ago the Supreme Court outraged Conservatives (and a lot of the rest of us) by ruling that government had the right to condemn private property and take it over and give it to private developers for private gain. Government has long had a right to take property for fair market value and use it for public projects. The Supreme Court somehow extended this right to the take over of private property for private projects.
People across the
have been forced to make way for power lines, sidewalks, telephone poles,
pipelines and other projects. In a 2005 case, the Supreme Court in a 5-to-4
ruling said that local governments could even force property owners to sell out
to make way for private
economic developments if officials felt that it would benefit the public. United States
The case, Kelo v. City of New London, became a rallying point for
conservatives and others who said the ruling violated the Fifth Amendment prohibition against the taking of property except for “public use.”
But suddenly a big oil pipeline company is involved in the taking of private property in order to build a pipeline, and guess what, Conservatives all across the land are rallying to the side of the oil company and against private property right.s
Ironically, many conservative critics of that case, including Deb Fischer,
Nebraska’s Republican candidate for Senate,
support the Keystone XL pipeline. They say that it will serve the public good
by increasing U.S.
oil supplies and easing national security concerns. In its court filings,
TransCanada says that the pipeline is a common carrier whose permanent
easements are “in the public interest.” U.S.
Most landowners, under the threat of having their property taken have agreed to terms. But there are some who have not. Here is one property rights defender.
Recently, TransCanada has sweetened offers to landowners, especially those along the new
route, to try
to ease access problems. But Harter says the mere threat of eminent domain has
persuaded many landowners to come to terms with the company without going to
court — or running up legal fees. Nebraska
“Negotiating with TransCanada having right of eminent domain is like having somebody trying to rob you at gunpoint and arguing for your billfold when there’s nothing in it,” Harter said. When a company representative threatened to use eminent domain, he recalled, “I said, ‘I will not be bullied into signing.’ ”
And yes, we have yet to see any prominent Conservative defender of private property rights against government take up his case. And we don’t expect to either, after all whose side do we really think Conservatives are on anyway?