Justice John Paul Stevens, the leader of the Supreme Court’s liberal bloc, is retiring. His most famous ruling is probably the 5-to-4 Kelo decision, which ruled that homes and other properties can be seized and demolished by the government so that it can give the land to politically-connected private interests for redevelopment, even though the Constitution’s Takings Clause says that property can only be taken for “public use.” The Examiner‘s Timothy Carney describes Justice Stevens’ jurisprudence here.
Carney notes that the seizure that Stevens upheld in his Kelo ruling left a “bulldozed neighborhood” in its wake that “is still rubble” today, and that neither the jobs nor the hotel that the seizure’s backers claimed would result from the seizure and demolition have ever materialized, contrary to Stevens’ claims that we should trust the government and show “deference” towards its claims about the benefits of such seizures.
Stevens’ Kelo decision violated basic axioms of constitutional interpretation.
President Obama will now nominate a replacement for Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court. Obama praised Justice Stevens and promised to pick another justice “like Justice Stevens” in terms of judicial philosophy. (Stevens started out as a moderate justice, and became very liberal. Stevens claims to have not changed over the years in his judicial philosophy, but even the liberal New Republic notes that he is in fact liberal, and that he has shifted to the left on many issues over the years, despite his claims to the contrary.)
Obama has not chosen a replacement for Stevens yet, but he has nominated to a federal appeals court a radical law professor, Goodwin Liu, who supports racial quotas and a constitutional right to welfare. (Obama’s stimulus package largely repealed welfare reform.) Liu is hostile to “’free enterprise, private ownership of property, and limited government.’ According to Liu, these are ‘code words for an ideological agenda hostile to environmental, workplace, and consumer protections.'”