Free Liberal

Coordinating towards higher values

After Kelo, What's Par?

by Paul Jacob

The "Takings" clause of the Bill of Rights limits the power of government to take private property away from people. If some property is to be so nabbed, under the practice of "eminent domain," then it must be for public use, and the owner must be compensated for the loss.

Last year's Kelo v. the City of New London case widened the definition of what "public use" means. It now includes taking property from some private folks and giving it to other private folks IF there's an increase in the tax base, thus (allegedly) proving "economic development." You gotta ask: development for whom? A lot of us who are leery of government grabbiness were appalled at the Supreme Court's majority decision.

But the Kelo decision didn't let loose a completely unrestrained kleptocracy. There are still some limits. And they may soon be tested in North Hills, New York.

The mayor of that town wants the city to grab the private Deepdale Golf Course and turn it into . . . another private golf course. You see, it's to be called a public golf course, but it will require high yearly fees to join.

That's public in name only.

The proposal is so atrocious an idea that it deserves to be sent to the highest court, where the judges can clarify what's par for the course after Kelo.

This time, they might get it right. I hope.

As for the current members of Deepdale, I wish you the best of luck. Happy swinging. And, if a ball or two crashes through the limousine windows of your mayor . . . well, I thought I heard you yell "fore."

Common Sense is published by Americans for Limited Government. Their website can be visited at www.limitedgov.org.