House of Supreme Court Justice threatened

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Supreme Court Justice David Souter

In the town of Weare, New Hampshire, a movement is under way to force Supreme Court Justice David Souter to sell his home for "public benefit," an expansion of the eminent domain provision in the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution that the Supreme Court legalized in the controversial 5–4 decision in Kelo v. New London where Souter was on the majority side. In the June 2005 decision this majority ruled that "public use" included "public benefit," stating that a local council could use the Fifth Amendment to compulsorily acquire private property for the express purpose of selling it to other private parties whose use was expected to yield increased tax revenues. The decision left many worried that homes would be seized for commercial enterprises or that the decision could be used as a means to remove minority property owners deemed inconvenient.

The campaign to have Souter's house removed is headed by Logan Clements, who is petitioning to replace it with the Lost Liberty Hotel, a tongue-in-cheek name for what he says will be a memorial to lost freedom. Clements already has 188 signatures to put the issue on a ballot, and only 25 are needed. Once it is on the ballot, the measure can be approved as soon as March. Weare has 8,500 residents.

So far, neither Justice Souter nor Kathy Arberg, Supreme Court spokeswoman, have commented on the matter.


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