In August, an event of true significance passed without the notice it deserved: Michigan’s Supreme Court unanimously reversed the infamous Poletown decision, invalidating as erroneous the reasoning in that case that “a private entity’s pursuit of profit was a ‘public use’ for constitutional takings purposes simply because one entity’s profit maximization contributed to the health of the general economy”, in this case the bulldozing of an entire neighborhood to make room for a General Motors plant. The Court wrote, “We overrule Poletown in order to vindicate our constitution, protect the people’s property rights and preserve the legitimacy of the judicial branch as the expositor, not creator, of fundamental law.” This is huge, and has far-reaching national implications. Next, look for the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision on whether or not to hear an appeal of the similar Fort Trumbull case from Connecticut, in which it will have an opportunity to sustain the reasoning of the Michigan decision for the entire nation. Hopefully, it will do so, and thereby restore the sanctity of private property rights as embodied in the Fifth Amendment, to wit—“….nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”, and in most state constitutions, in which the clear intent was to confine “public use” to condemnations under eminent domain for necessary and publicly owned infrastructure, not “economic development” or “urban renewal”.
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