June 23rd, 2005

What's Mine Is Apparently Not Always Mine

The Supreme Court ruled today in a 5-4 decision that local governments may exercise eminent domain to take your property away and give it to someone else who will provide more tax revenue for the local government. While it's been clear from the Constitution that governments could take your property -- with just compensation -- for government purposes, this extends that principal a lot.

Personally, I think this sucks. But I suppose that depends on how much you trust your local government.

Did I mention that I live next door to the City of Chicago?

The Text of the Fifth Amendment

Just so that we have in front of us the thing that we're discussing in my previous post, I went out and dug this up from a copy of the Constitution:

Amendment V.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Seems clear to me. Your mileage may vary if you're a Supreme Court Justice.

The Constitution and Hanging Amendments

drawshad asked about time limits on the amendment process. This excellent Constitution site includes a list of unratified amendments, at least four of which are still hanging.

For those who are keeping score and who don't feel like going to the website, the hanging amendments are:

The original First Amendment to the Bill of Rights which would have specified limits on the size of the House of Representatives.

Revocation of citizenship for those who accept titles of nobility from a foreign power.

An amendment that would prohibit amending the Constitution to allow Congress to abolish slavery (among other things).

An amendment that would allow banning child labor.

Fomalhaut, Rings, and Planetary Formation

The Hubble appears to have gotten some nice pictures of Fomalhaut, a young star about 25 light years away, that suggest strongly that there are planets forming around it. Better yet, they don't think that any of the planets could be larger than five Jupiter masses.

So if we can just wait a billion years or so, there might be some nice real estate there. Maybe.