Today's 5—4 decision by the Supreme Court to allow cities to take private homes by emoinent domain and then turn them over to private developers is an outrage, one which vastly diminishes the security of property rights where they matter most.

...the court upheld the ability of New London, Conn., to seize people's homes to make way for an office, residential and retail complex supporting a new $300 million research facility of the Pfizer pharmaceutical company. The city had argued that the project served a public use within the meaning of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution because it would increase tax revenues, create jobs and improve the local economy.

[In the interest of full disclosure, I must divulge that I have performed work as a consultant for Pfizer over the course of several years, including at their Connecticut research facilities. But I blame the Court for permitting this outrage, not Pfizer for getting away with it. Pfizer is acting within the context of a very bad legal framework. The people I worked with at Pfizer were without exception outstanding individuals, and the organization was very well—managed.]

A group of homeowners in New London's Fort Trumbull area had fought the city's attempt to impose eminent domain, arguing that their property could be seized only to serve a clear public use such as building roads or schools or to eliminate blight. The homeowners, some of whom had lived in their house for decades, also argued that the public would benefit from the proposed project only if it turned out to be successful, making the "public use" requirement subject to the eventual performance of the private business venture....

The majority endorsed the view that local governments are better placed than federal courts to decide whether development projects serve a public purpose and will benefit the community, justifying the acquisition of land through eminent domain. In his opinion, Stevens wrote that "for more than a century," the high court has favored "affording legislatures broad latitude in determining what public needs justify the use of the takings power."

So the court majority (which is essentially made up of its liberals) is willing to grant plenty of leeway to violate property rights, but takes the hardest possible line against leeway in the matter of the Establishment Clause, or flag burning, or any number of other liberal causes.

Property rights, along with gun rights apparently don't count as much as some other aspects of the Bill of Rights.

Stephen Bainridge, the brilliant law professor blogger shares my outrage, and has many salient points to make, as does Michelle Makin, who is updating her