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Supreme Court deals a blow to property rights

The Fifth Amendment took a big hit last week ("High court upholds eminent domain," June 24).

It is one thing to condemn property for the purpose of constructing a public road.

It is another thing for public authorities to condemn the property of one citizen so another citizen or private enterprise may profit from the location.

Citizens and residents of this country will be at the mercy of wealthy developers and their armies of lawyers as a result of this ruling.

Last week, the Fifth Amendment was curtailed.

Tomorrow it could be the First Amendment (which guarantees freedom of the press, assembly, expression, religion, etc.) or another part of the Bill of Rights.

Jon Valentine

Severna Park

The decision the Supreme Court rendered on eminent domain is the latest in a long series of government attacks on private property.

The framers certainly never intended this outrageous interpretation of the Constitution.

The court has made a mockery of the Fifth Amendment's "public use" clause.

Now developers can easily entice local governments to take existing property with the simple lure of increased tax revenue.

This assault on private property must not stand.

In the future, the president must appoint justices who will overturn it.

Dudley Thompson


Ruling ratifies power of the developers

The Supreme Court decision allowing carte blanche eminent domain to private developers should shock all Americans, from the most conservative to the most progressive ("High court upholds eminent domain," June 24).

Taking a person's land with compensation to build a hospital, school, library or other public use facility has always been fairly easy.

But now the Supreme Court allows the taking of people's homes to benefit private enterprise. This should send shock waves across the country.

Here in Baltimore, the anti-community, pro-development forces of the Baltimore Development Corp. and City Hall's favorite developers must be doing cartwheels with this latest turn against private property owners.

They already set the agenda in City Hall for land use.

Now they have the conservative Supreme Court to justify their lordship over our communities.

Myles Hoenig


Decision sustains form of class warfare

I lost respect for the present Supreme Court in December 2000, when five justices demonstrated their total lack of respect for the rule of law in the decision on the presidential election. Yet I continue to be astonished and disgusted by the depths to which these people can sink.

Now the court has ruled that the power of eminent domain, which historically allowed the taking of private property (with compensation) for a public purpose, may be used to take private property from some individuals to give to others for their business advantage - on the specious grounds that development may be good for the community ("High court upholds eminent domain," June 24).

The court suggests that it should not intervene in such disputes because state and local governments know best.

In an age when bribery and influence-peddling are rampant and the integrity of the electoral system has been almost wholly destroyed, this is nauseatingly disingenuous.

The justices who voted to authorize this class warfare are no better than shysters.

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam


Who can determine fair compensation?

The Supreme Court has made it easier for local and state governments to condemn the property of homeowners and small businesses for the benefit of bigger and more powerful entities and, presumably, for the benefit of the general population ("High court upholds eminent domain," June 24). All of this is to be done, of course, with fair compensation to those dispossessed of their properties.

Ah, there's the rub. What is fair compensation for a home or place of business into which an owner may have put his or her treasure of hopes and dreams, not to mention years of loving toil?

And what small business person has not worked night and day to get a business to the break-even point?

How should he or she be compensated for that business, which is just another piece of real estate to the prospective buyer or to a government agency that condemns it?

And how can we determine a fair price for the trauma suffered by some evicted elderly man or woman or couple whose residence is, essentially, his or her very life?

Robert E. Wolfe


A taxpayer-funded witch hunt on hiring

The witch hunt being perpetrated by state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch is another example of how far some Democrats will go to maintain, and abuse, power ("Panel is created to study Ehrlich personnel moves," June 15).

The investigation into the governor's personnel practices is nothing but an orchestrated campaign to malign the governor before next November.

While the investigation is hypocritical and unseemly, the worst part is that I, and all Maryland taxpayers, will be footing the bill for these shenanigans.

I don't want to pay for these power plays by Mr. Miller and Mr. Busch. And neither should anyone else.

Al Eisner


Veto of dumping bill hurts public interest

I couldn't agree more with the letter "Fine the litterbugs trashing the city" (June 20), which advocated fines for people caught littering illegally in Baltimore.

And apparently, this view was also shared by every single member of the Maryland Senate - Republican and Democrat - when they passed legislation that authorized the city to issue civil fines to people caught on camera illegally dumping.

Unfortunately, the governor vetoed this bill, stating in his veto message that he was concerned that the burden of proof was being lowered for litterbugs caught on tape.

Who, exactly, is this governor representing?

Patrick Moylan


A wise man's story teaches and inspires

Thank you, Michael Olesker, for your touching and inspiring story about Bruce Hart ("A wise man finds time for every purpose," June 21). I love to read stories like this one in The Sun and share them with my 10-year-old daughter.

We can all learn so much from Mr. Hart.

Kathy Stromberg


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