Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Nancy Pelosi on Eminent Domain
(via InstaPundit) Maybe this shouldn't surprise me, but it does. Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives, and the first woman in American history to lead a majority party in the U.S. Congress.... doesn't quite get the whole concept of the Supreme Court and rulings and all that complicated government stuff.
This whole press conference is on the strange side of bizarre, but witness:
Q: Later this morning, many Members of the House Republican leadership, along with John Cornyn from the Senate, are holding a news conference on eminent domain, the decision of the Supreme Court the other day, and they are going to offer legislation that would restrict it, prohibiting federal funds from being used in such a manner.
Two questions: What was your reaction to the Supreme Court decision on this topic, and what do you think about legislation to, in the minds of opponents at least, remedy or changing it?
Ms. Pelosi: As a Member of Congress, and actually all of us and anyone who holds a public office in our country, we take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Very central to that in that Constitution is the separation of powers. I believe that whatever you think about a particular decision of the Supreme Court, and I certainly have been in disagreement with them on many occasions, it is not appropriate for the Congress to say we're going to withhold funds for the Court because we don't like a decision.
Stop. Okay, apparently Ms. Pelosi thinks that Congressional Republicans are planning to cut funding from the Supreme Court of the United States to avenge the Kelo decision. Hard to say if this reflects her reactionary stereotype that all Republicans are evil and would really stoop to such Constitution crippling levels, or if she truly believes that Congress has the power to cut funding to the Supreme Court and legislate one of the three branches of government right out of existence as if it were some social program. Neither conclusion is particularly flattering.
No worries though, the reporter apologizes to Ms. Pelosi for confusing her, clarifies, and re-asks the question in more accessible terms, we continue:
Q: Not on the Court, withhold funds from the eminent domain purchases that wouldn't involve public use. I apologize if I framed the question poorly. It wouldn't be withholding federal funds from the Court, but withhold Federal funds from eminent domain type purchases that are not just involved in public good.
Ms. Pelosi: Again, without focusing on the actual decision, just to say that when you withhold funds from enforcing a decision of the Supreme Court you are, in fact, nullifying a decision of the Supreme Court. This is in violation of the respect for separation of church -- powers in our Constitution, church and state as well. Sometimes the Republicans have a problem with that as well. But forgive my digression.
So the answer to your question is, I would oppose any legislation that says we would withhold funds for the enforcement of any decision of the Supreme Court no matter how opposed I am to that decision. And I'm not saying that I'm opposed to this decision, I'm just saying in general.
Q: Could you talk about this decision? What you think of it?
Ms. Pelosi: It is a decision of the Supreme Court. If Congress wants to change it, it will require legislation of a level of a constitutional amendment. So this is almost as if God has spoken. It's an elementary discussion now. They have made the decision.
Q: Do you think it is appropriate for municipalities to be able to use eminent domain to take land for economic development?
Ms. Pelosi: The Supreme Court has decided, knowing the particulars of this case, that that was appropriate, and so I would support that.
Wow. Hard to tell if the re-phrasing of the question helped or only sent her further down confusion lane.
Quick recap: the Kelo decision only means that the Supreme Court affirmed it is within the bounds of a 'public use' for a government to take property for economic development, there is no 'enforcement' angle in this at all. They are not Constitutionally required to take property. Pelosi also mistakenly asserts that it will take a Constitutional amendment to 'change it.' Well quick some tell John Cornyn! He just introduced a regular old bill, not an amendment, won't the joke be on him?!? No. Any state legislature can pass a law that they will not allow eminent domain takings for economic development, there is nothing unconstitutional about that. Amusing too, that she makes the reference about Republicans not being able to separate church and state, then a moments later refers to the Supreme Court ruling "as if God has spoken." Perhaps she could mine her staff and interns for a second year government student to explain to her how all this works? Or maybe, under the pretense of "quizzing them," she could just ask one of the high school students that surely will soon be coming through on their school's annual 'Washington trip.'