Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The not-so-eminent domain 

Here's an update on the efforts of New Hampshire residents to take over Justice Souter's family farm and build a hotel on his land. In a state where 93 per cent of the population oppose the taking of private land through eminent domain for private development, Souter's contribution to the Kelo majority was not very popular.

Enough to lose the roof over your heard? Probably not; for one, the local authorities are unlikely to go through with "the people's revenge." But it's an interesting thought.

Politicians, of course, have to live with the consequences of their decisions; they either stay in the office or get voted out, depending on whether the majority of voters think they've done a good job. Judges never do, and nor should they, to the extent that their role is different to that of legislators. Legislators, in general, have to reflect the views of people they represent - judges, on the other hand, are there to interpret the laws and adjudicate appropriately, without fear or favor. If only that was all they did - alas, the protestations from the benches that the courts don't engage in law-making have been wearing very thin over the last few decades. Behind the increasing public frustration with the judicial system lies the perception that judges have tried to have the best of both worlds; the power of the legislature with the lack of accountability of the judicature.


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