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Wednesday, June 29, 2005
What Goes Around Comes Around: Justice Souder's Pretty Piece of New Hampshire

In Kelo v. City of New London, the US Supreme Court recently voted 5-4 to allow the taking of private property by eminent domain not just by government for government purposes (which is a long-established, generally sensible practice), but also by government for the benefit of a private developer (which is a fairly new practice, but admittedly on its face only a slight extension of precedent). The argument is that the proposed development both fit a reasonable, rationally developed plan for development of the area in question and would benefit the municipality, notably through increased tax revenues.

It makes you wonder if there's such a thing as private property any more. It also makes we wonder when they're coming for my church, which sits on a piece of land which would be fairly valuable for residential or commercial development. Come to think of it, what about the Alpine Tabernacle?

One of the justices who voted for this incremental abolition of private property is Justice David Souter. He owns a home and a pretty piece of land in the Town of Weare, New Hampshire. On Monday a developer named Logan Darrow Clements (is the middle name for real?) initiated the paperwork to build a hotel on the Souter property, on the grounds that the tax revenue and other economic benefits would exceed what the town presently gets from the place.

Yes, it's political. Clements wants to build "The Lost Liberty Hotel," which will include a museum to the loss of freedom in America, a "Just Desserts Cafe," and in each guest room, instead of the Gideon Bible, a copy of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

He needs three of five members of the town board to vote in favor - but as I read the Court decision, he also needs it to be part of a broader plan for development or redevelopment in the town, and it's not clear whether that is the case.

Just desserts, indeed.

Check out the press release and other materials at Freestar Media. Thanks to Jon Rodeback, my best personal source inside the Beltway, for sending me this piece well before I heard about it on the news.

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