Justice Stephen Breyer
Call it eminent domania.
Public outrage over the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing governments to seize private property and give it to another private party has spread to a second justice whose home is now targeted for confiscation.
Justice Stephen Breyer has joined his high-court colleague David Souter in feeling the wrath of the public, specifically the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire, which wants the city of Plainfield, N.H., to seize Breyer’s 167-acre vacation retreat by eminent domain.
In its place, Libertarians hope to see a “Constitution Park” featuring monuments celebrating the U.S. and New Hampshire constitutions.
“The point is: What goes around, comes around,” party spokesman Mike Lorrey told the Concord Monitor. “This is a way of saying, ‘You’re going to be held to your own standard.’”
Lorrey told the paper that Edward Naile, president of the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers, has already recruited some town residents to seek signatures for the petition regarding Breyer’s land.
“We just started it up the other day,” Lorrey said. “We’re just getting going.”
New Hampshire home of Justice David Souter
This latest attempt to put the justices’ own property in the crosshairs follows the effort by Californian Logan Darrow Clements, who wants the public to use eminent domain powers to snatch the home of Justice Souter in Weare, N.H., in order to create the “Lost Liberty Hotel,” a kind of museum commemorating the lost right to private property in America.
That effort recently hit a roadblock when town selectmen decided against moving ahead with Clements’ plan.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Clements is now targeting the selectmen themselves to be ousted from office.
Clements wrote to the board, explaining he needed to find out if members already opposed the proposal so he would know whether it was worth the money and effort to produce a formal presentation.
Selectman Joseph Fiala replied, saying in conclusion, “While I understand your frustration with the offending decision of the Court, I hope you will reconsider your position and take one I’m sure you are more comfortable with – that is to defend the property rights of all citizens, whether we agree with them or not. Peace, Joe Fiala, Weare Selectman.”
Logan Darrow Clements
But Clements contends Fiala doesn’t understand that in taking that position, he is giving Souter special rights.
The Los Angeles entrepreneur is encouraging people to write to the selectman board members “and explain that giving Mr. Souter a special exemption from his own ruling is not defending property rights, as they are trying to assert.”
“Equal justice under the law means we all are treated equally,” he said.
Clements said he’s asking the residents of Weare to continue with a ballot-initiative drive to circumvent the board and to investigate whether local laws allow them to remove the entire board of selectmen from office.
“America now needs the assistance of the residents of Weare so that the torch of liberty can enlighten one who has so soundly turned his back on all those who died to keep it lit,” Clements says on his website.
The town of Weare has been inundated with calls in support of the proposal since WND first publicized the story of how Clements plans to turn eminent domain against one of its champions.
Clements says he’s received more than 5,000 e-mails and over 400 phone calls.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 last month that local towns and cities can seize homes and private businesses through eminent domain and turn the properties over to private developers for no other reason than the fact that it would result in higher tax revenues for the municipality.
A few days after the ruling, Clements faxed a request to Chip Meany, the code enforcement officer of Weare, seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road, the present location of Souter’s home.
The Kelo v. City of New London decision allows the New London, Conn., government to seize the homes and businesses of residents to facilitate the building of an office complex that would provide economic benefits to the area and more tax revenue to the city.
Though the practice of eminent domain is provided for in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, the case is significant because the seizure is for private development and not for “public use,” such as a highway or bridge. The decision has been roundly criticized by property-rights activists and limited-government commentators.