Friday, May 1, 2009

David Souter and America's Disappointment

The door of history is hitting yet one more padded posterior as David Souter stumbles off into the sunset of his years and the end of his nondescript career.

For the good of their independence, Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life. This can be an opportunity for some to be independent of vested interests. Others could be described as loose cannons. David Souter was not a loose cannon. It was the refuse he shot into judicial posterity that most distinguishes his disappointing career.

There were moments when the majority of Americans were united behind Souter. A closer examination of such united moments would show him being chased down the street by disgusted citizens condemned to live with his judicial refuse.

David Souter's claim to fame is having climbed every mountain peak in his native state of New Hampshire , a formerly sovereign state that is in the process of being colonised by neighbouring Massachusetts. The flatness of his nondescript career presents a dizzying contrast to the mountains he climbed as a hobby when he was not inflicting himself on the law books of our country.

But it was in 2005 with Kelo vs. New London that Souter descended into the deepest valley of his entire career. That odious decision dealt with the government's right of eminent domain. According to this legal principle, a pressing collective need for a highway, a hospital or a some needed public facility could constitute the basis for the compensated expropriation by a government on behalf of and for the good of the people. Souter participated in the expansion of this needed legal doctrine to a level of tyranny. Thanks in part to Souter, a private non governmental entity can take possession of a property through eminent domain. If a corporation can provide a municipality with more tax revenue, they can now claim that a pressing public interest is served by throwing out penny ante homeowners who "only" pay thousands rather than millions in taxes.

It is through this odious decision that Souter back handedly achieved his greatest success. From private militia members in the Idaho woods to the ghettos of Los Angeles, the worst fears of steam rolling big government became a reality. Susette Kelo became the iconic representation of small homeowners fighting big business. She united the political spectrum as never before and sparked a campaign for legislation to tighten, define and restrict eminent domain laws.

In a peculiar footnote to Kelo vs New London, the entire neighbourhood that was demolished through Kelo vs New London remains a wasteland. The bumbling developers who had such grand plans for it lost their funding. And in a stroke of poetic justice, the city that so scorned its tax payers has even lost their tax remittances.

David Souter sided with the majority, leaving American property owners in danger of falling victim to whoever is willing to throw enough money at politicians. Thanks to Souter, we have a new Bill of Rights. If you flash enough bills, you've got all the rights.

In a bitter comic footnote to the Kelo vs New London decision, some of Souter's neighbours in his native New Hampshire sued to expropriate his home under the provisions of the Supreme Court's decision. The Associated Press reported on their action as follows.

Angered by a Supreme Court ruling that gave local governments more power to seize people's homes for economic development, a group of activists is trying to get one of the court's justices evicted from his own home.

The group, led by a California man, wants Justice David Souter's home seized to build an inn called the "Lost Liberty Hotel."

They submitted enough petition signatures — only 25 were needed — to bring the matter before voters in March. This weekend, they're descending on Souter's hometown, the central New Hampshire town of Weare, population 8,500, to rally for support.

"This is in the tradition of the Boston Tea Party and the Pine Tree Riot," Organizer Logan Darrow Clements said, referring to the riot that took place during the winter of 1771-1772, when colonists in Weare beat up officials appointed by King George III who fined them for logging white pines without approval.

"All we're trying to do is put an end to eminent domain abuse," Clements said, by having those who advocate or facilitate it "live under it, so they understand why it needs to end."

I have included a video which outlines this beacon of perfidy that shines like a klieg light over the waste land of David Souter's mediocre judicial career. I have also included a fitting portrait of this fading judicial wallflower. A chilling thought dampens the joy I feel at Souter's departure. The matter of his replacement rests in Barack Obama's culpable hands. And given the company he has kept throughout his legal and political career, this is not a pretty prospect. My only hope is that we might be blessed with a pleasant surprise to counter balance the disappointment of David Souter's all too long career on the Supreme Court.

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