Even Congress's "lone self-described socialist, Rep. Bernard Sanders of Vermont" doesn't like Kelo:
I disagree with the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. New London," Mr. Sanders said. "I believe that the result of this decision will be that working families and poor people will see their property turned over to corporate interests and wealthy developers."
Rep. Maxine Waters, "California Democrat and member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said she is 'outraged' by the decision. 'It's the most un-American thing that can be done.'"
And when is the last time those two agreed with Tom DeLay?
"The Supreme Court voted last week to undo private property rights and to empower governments to kick people out of their homes and give them to someone else because they feel like it," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican. "No court that denies property rights will long respect and recognize other basic human rights."
The Washington Post describes the legislation, co-sponsored by conservative James Sensenbrenner and liberal John Conyers in its story, curiously titled "House Votes To Undercut High Court On Property"
The House measure, which passed 231 to 189, would deny federal funds to any city or state project that used eminent domain to force people to sell their property to make way for a profit-making project such as a hotel or mall. Historically, eminent domain has been used mainly for public purposes such as highways or airports.
The measure, an amendment to an appropriations bill, would apply to funds administered by the departments of Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said they will push for a more inclusive measure that would apply to all federal funds.
A fact sheet said under the bill the locality or state would "lose any federal funds that would contribute in any way to the project the property would be taken for."
Nancy Pelosi, by contrast, agrees with the decision and opposes the legislation:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said she "would oppose any legislation that says that we would withhold funds for the enforcement of any decision of the Supreme Court, no matter how opposed I am to that decision." She then added: "And I'm not saying that I'm opposed to this decision." Arguing that Congress has no business interfering with the ruling unless it wants to amend the Constitution, Mrs. Pelosi said: "This is almost as if God has spoken."
So how about a constitutional amendment that makes it clear as to the limits of the emininent domain power along these lines--"nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."
What amendment do we need--change the type font to italicize the words "public use"?
[In light of the Supreme Court's recent religion cases, the irony inherent in Congresswoman Pelosi's characterization of the Supreme Court's ruling in Kelo as "almost as if God has spoken" is just too easy, so I'll just let the readers supply their own ironic commentary on that one.]
An even curiouser headline of the same debate from the New York Times:
Republican Lawmakers Fire Back at Judiciary
Stepping up their assault on the federal judiciary, Congressional Republicans announced efforts on Thursday directed at overturning two recent Supreme Court decisions, one that allowed government to claim private property for economic development and another that stripped Kentucky courthouses of the Ten Commandments.
In contrast to the headline, the story notes in paragraph 6:
Illustrating the broad discontent in the House over the court ruling on property rights, House members voted 365 to 33 late Thursday night in support of a resolution expressing "grave disapproval" at the court decision.
It does not note this particular item from the Washington Post story, which I forgot to include in my original post:
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) introduced a similar measure and immediately drew a Democratic co-sponsor, Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.), as well as Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who is number three in his party's leadership. The House bill is sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.). Its Democratic co-sponsors include Reps. John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), Maxine Waters (Calif.) and Peter A. DeFazio (Ore.).
And yet the New York Times summary of all of this bipartisan activity is "Republican Lawmakers Fire Back at Judiciary" and that Republicans are "Stepping up their assault on the federal judiciary"?
At the least the Post headline, while implying editorial disapproval of Congress, wasn't as heavy-handed as the Times in turning it into a partisan attack (in fact, to reinforce the implicit message, the only picture in the on-line version of the Times article pictures only Republican lawmakers).
And some wonder why I don't generally read that Times any more? For more reasons, see here.