Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Side Notes on Kelo
Side Notes & Detours shreds a Kelo friendly opinion piece in the Press Citizen, and then offers up this analysis of
Maybe it's the education talking, but prevention and the rule of law seem to me too important to simply let issues skate on "but we did it before" and "c'mon, nobody's taken advantage of it yet." Our government is not basically corrupt. It's not out specifically to "get" poor Joe Schmoo who's got a nice bit of ocean-view (okay, cornfield-view in this case) property. But if a leader did become corrupt, or it did set out to get the little guy, what then? Have we got sufficient checks and balances in place to ensure that can't happen? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that's the concept which spawned the whole idea of things like the separation of powers and the Bill of Rights. We'd seen what a government free of those checks and balances was capable of doing, and wanted no part of it.
The Kelo decision goes too far for most people's taste, because it incorporates private use into the concept of public purpose, effectively allowing the government to take one person's property and give it to another person. Yes, there are some checks and balances. And perhaps, for some, it's not an issue the way it was applied in New London and would not be a problem as applied in Iowa. But the opportunity for corruption is there, and I think it's smarter to plug the holes before they go too far. Similarly, we can argue the semantics of the AUF and the FISA until we're blue in the face, as there are points on either side as to whether they technically allow the FSA program to skate. But Bush is arguing something far more fundamental: that the legislation is moot because Article II gives him the power for domestic surveillance inherently. I have a real problem with this, even if it's been done before, and even if it's arguable the FSA itself wasn't applied in a way that's fundamentally repugnant. Given the broad spectrum of items that could be considered "incident to war," I cannot fathom anyone not wanting reforms to ensure there are adequate checks on executive power to ensure our rights are respected regardless of who is in power.
Ask the questions, pose the hypotheticals, plug the gaps before they become a problem or political scandal. In what universe is this not a good thing?