Shameful: Pfizer abandons site of infamous Kelo eminent domain taking

The Washington Examiner reports, Pfizer abandons site of infamous Kelo eminent domain taking (H/T Professor K. on FB)

The private homes that New London, Conn., took away from Suzette Kelo and her neighbors have been torn down. Their former site is a wasteland of fields of weeds, a monument to the power of eminent domain.

But now Pfizer, the drug company whose neighboring research facility had been the original cause of the homes’ seizure, has just announced that it is closing up shop in New London.

To lure those jobs to New London a decade ago, the local government promised to demolish the older residential neighborhood adjacent to the land Pfizer was buying for next-to-nothing. Suzette Kelo fought the taking to the Supreme Court, and lost. Five justices found this redevelopment met the constitutional hurdle of “public use.”

Pfizer Inc. will shut down its massive New London research and development headquarters and transfer most of the 1,400 people working there to Groton, the pharmaceutical giant said Monday….

Pfizer is now deciding what to do with its giant New London offices, and will consider selling it, leasing it and other options, a company spokeswoman said.

This tragedy of property rights reveals the pitfalls of eminent domain takings for private development. Suzette Kelo’s home was taken by eminent domain. Years later, Pfizer abandoned the property, but Kelo’s little pink house was no longer (thought it was moved across town).

Scott Bullock, put it succinctly “This shows the folly of these redevelopment projects that use massive taxpayer subsidies and other forms of corporate welfare and abuse eminent domain.”

For shame.

Update: Thanks for the Hat Tip Professor Somin.

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Compare Two Presidents Giving Addresses in Berlin

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Who is the most insignificant Justice according to Chief Justice Roberts?

None other than Justice Gabriel Duvall, of course.

From Wikipedia:

In the twenty-three years he sat on the Supreme Court, Duvall penned an opinion in only seventeen cases. For all of Duvall’s tenure, John Marshall presided as Chief Justice. In only two cases, does the record show the two men holding different opinions. In Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. (4 Wheaton) 518 (1819), Duvall offered only a brief note calling attention to French law on the irrevocability of royal charters. In Mima Queen v. Hepburn, 11 U.S. (7 Cranch) 290 (1834), Duvall would have authorized the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia to accept hearsay evidence proving the emancipation of a slave by her owner, but the rest of the Court, per the Chief Justice, decided against it.

H/T Moin Y. on FB.

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Really Cool Video: High Speed Camera Films A Water Drop, and it Bounces Up

Check this video out. It is really, really cool. H/T Gizmodo.

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Who Is a Jew? And is Judaism/Jewish a Religion, Race, or Ethnicity? Court Ruling in Britain Raises Question

From the New York Times, Who Is a Jew? Court Ruling in Britain Raises Question (H/T Instapundit). A student applied to an Orthodox Jewish school in the UK, and the School found that he wasn’t Jewish, and would not admit him. While the boys mother converted in a Progressive Synagogue, because she did not convert in a Orthodox synagogue, the school did not consider the boy Jewish.

The questions before the judges in Courtroom No. 1 ofBritain’s Supreme Court were as ancient and as complex as Judaism itself.

Who is a Jew? And who gets to decide?

On the surface, the court was considering a straightforward challenge to the admissions policy of a Jewish high school in London. But the case, in which arguments concluded Oct. 30, has potential repercussions for thousands of other parochial schools across Britain. And in addressing issues at the heart of Jewish identity, it has exposed bitter divisions in Britain’s community of 300,000 or so Jews, pitting members of various Jewish denominations against one another.

While schools in the UK can base admissions on religion, they cannot base admissions on race or ethnicity.

The case rested on whether the school’s test of Jewishness was based on religion, which would be legal, or on race or ethnicity, which would not. The court ruled that it was an ethnic test because it concerned the status of M’s mother rather than whether M considered himself Jewish and practiced Judaism.

“The requirement that if a pupil is to qualify for admission his mother must be Jewish, whether by descent or conversion, is a test of ethnicity which contravenes the Race Relations Act,” the court said. It added that while it was fair that Jewish schools should give preference to Jewish children, the admissions criteria must depend not on family ties, but “on faith, however defined.”

I have always considered question of how to define Judaism, but I never thought it makes much of a difference. I’m Jewish. It describes my identity, and who I am. Whether that is a race, religion, or ethnicity, I don’t know, or particularly care.

I do not know anything about this U.K. discrimination law, but it strikes me as curious that a school can discriminate based on religion, but not race or ethnicity. Why distinguish. A person’s identity defines who they are. Also, it will be pretty tricky for a Court to step in an divine how to define Jewish faith. Murky indeed. I’ll keep an eye on this, anyway.

But, here is one take on what defines a Jew 😉

No Tweeting in Federal Court, and why I think the Supreme Court should get on Twitter

Apparently sending Tweets during a trial is considered “broadcasting” and the Court can ban it according to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure #53. From United States v. Shelnutt (M.D. Ga. Nov. 2) (H/T Volokh),

A reporter for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer newspaper has requested that he be allowed to use his handheld electronic device (e.g., a BlackBerry or cellular telephone) during the trial of the above-captioned criminal case to send electronic messages describing the court proceedings directly from the courtroom to his newspaper’s “Twitter” website. The messages, called “tweets,” would then be available to any member of the general public who accessed the newspaper’s Twitter website….

The Court finds that Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure prohibits “tweeting” from the Courtroom and that Rule 53 does not unconstitutionally restrict the freedom of the press under the First Amendment to the Constitution….

Rule 53 states in relevant part: “[T]he court must not permit the taking of photographs in the courtroom during judicial proceedings or the broadcasting of judicial proceedings from the courtroom.” The Court finds that the term “broadcasting” in Rule 53 includes sending electronic messages from a courtroom that contemporaneously describe the trial proceedings and are instantaneously available for public viewing. Although “broadcasting” is typically associated with the dissemination of information via television or radio, its plain meaning is broader than that. The definition of “broadcast” includes “casting or scattering in all directions” and “the act of making widely known.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (Unabridged) 280 (1993). It cannot be reasonably disputed that “twittering,” as previously described, would result in casting to the general public and thus making widely known the trial proceedings. Moreover, it appears clear that the drafters of Rule 53 intended to extend the Rule’s reach beyond the transmission of trial proceedings via television and radio.

Prior to the 2002 Amendments to Rule 53, the Rule specifically prohibited the “taking of photographs” and “radio broadcasting.” The 2002 Amendments eliminated the modifier “radio” from broadcasting, leaving a prohibition against “broadcasting” generally and not just “radio broadcasting.” This change was purposeful, and although the Advisory Committee’s notes state that the Committee did not consider the change to be substantive, the notes do reveal that the Committee made the change with the intention that additional types of broadcasting would be covered by the Rule. See Fed.R.Crim.P. 53 advisory committee’s note (“Given modern technology capabilities, the Committee believed that a more generalized reference to ‘broadcasting’ is appropriate.”)

Based on the foregoing, the Court finds that the contemporaneous transmission of electronic messages from the courtroom describing the trial proceedings, and the dissemination of those messages in a manner such that they are widely and instantaneously accessible to the general public, falls within the definition of “broadcasting” as used in Rule 53. Therefore, this type of broadcasting is prohibited under Rule 53, unless the application of Rule 53 is unconstitutional because it unduly restricts the freedom of the press under the First Amendment.

It is well settled that the restrictions contained in Rule 53 do not restrict the freedom of the press in an unconstitutional manner. The press certainly has a right of access to observe criminal trials, just as members of the public have the right to attend criminal trials. In this case, the press will be able to attend, listen and report on the proceedings. No restriction is being placed upon their legitimate right of access to the proceedings. Accordingly, the Court finds that its application of Rule 53 in this case does not violate the First Amendment.

I still think the Supreme Court should start a Twitter Feed. Here are a sampling of some possible tweets:

  • Cert granted = Petr FTW!
  • Cert denied= Petr FTL!
  • Dismissed as Improvidently Granted = Cert Fail
  • Call for the Views of Solicitor General = @SG, What up?
  • Per Curiam Reversal = Epic Fail!
  • Reverse and Remand to 9th Circuit: Srsly @CA9, not again, get it right!

Any other tips?

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My Thoughts on 20th Anniversary of Berlin Wall Being Torn Down and Remembering the Victims of Communism

Twenty years ago I was 5 years old, and in Kindergarten. I remember my father reading from the front page of the New York Times, and telling my mother that the Berlin Wall came down. At the time, I had absolutely no idea what that even meant, so I have no idea why I would remember that. But that memory is vivid in my mind.

On the Twentieth Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall,  you should remember the victims of Communism. Never forget the 100 million souls slaughtered by totalitarian dictators. Never again. A Memorial to the Victims of Communism is a brilliant idea.

Check out Reason.TV’s poignant video on this point.

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