We talked about this the other day in New Trump reality show -- Supreme Court Justice Apprentice.
The next president might be able to appoint as many as three Supreme Court Justices. And those of us who favor a strict construction of the Constitution naturally would like to see justices appointed to the bench who favor a strict construction and not view the Constitution as an elastic framework that can stretch to fit the mood of a whimsical public.
The only opinions we've seen from Donald Trump on the subject were his remarks about how much he favored the decision in Kelo v. City of New London, the eminent domain case, in which home owners were tossed off their land for use by a private developer who had convinced the local government of the benefit that would bring. As it turned out, the land became a vacant lot, and no one benefited. All pain, no gain.
What brings this back today is Star Parker's article titled Trump's Disregard for Private Property in which she made some important remarks about that specific topic with some history to boot:
The Fifth Amendment to our Constitution tells us: "No person shall be ... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."
The key question is, what is "public use"?
George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin sums it up as follows: "Until the early 20th century, most courts interpreted those words to cover things such as roads or power lines -- projects owned either directly by the government or by private owners who have a legal obligation to serve the entire public, such as utility companies."
"By the 1950s, however," Somin continues, "The original meaning of 'public use' had been largely abandoned. Legal elites came to believe that government planners should have nearly limitless authority to take property to promote growth and combat blight afflicting the urban poor."
Call strict constructionists old fashioned, if you want. But the words meant something to the founding fathers. Private property rights are the basis for a successful economic system, and they knew that. The Constitution should be treated as law not as a suggestion.