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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why It's Important to Follow the Supreme Court

Andy Barr writes at Politico:

Republican Christine O’Donnell was tripped up during Wednesday night’s Delaware Senate debate, seemingly unable to name a recent Supreme Court decision with which she disagrees.

Asked to name such a court case, O’Donnell paused before responding, “Oh gosh. Give me a specific one.”

When moderator Nancy Karibjanian of Delaware First Media said that she could not give her an example because the point of the question was for O’Donnell to name a case, O’Donnell apologized and acknowledged she could not name a case.

Here is one answer that she could have given. As we discuss in our chapter on federalism, in Kelo v. City of New London a 5-4 majority held that a city's taking of private property to sell for private development qualified as a "public use" within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment's takings clause. The decision was highly unpopular, particularly among conservatives and libertarians. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the decision, and even he was not happy with it, saying "the law compelled a result that I would have opposed if I were a legislator.''