In case you weren't paying attention - and most of us weren't - the Supreme Court this week dealt a blow to private home ownership with a 5-4 vote giving cities power to seize property for private, commercial development. Governments have always had the power to seize your property if it's needed for "public use" such as schools, libraries, etc. But this week's decision now gives the green light for cities to take private property to allow for construction of a commercial development.
I believe cities should have the power - as they do - to take property if it has become a health or safety issue or is in substantial violation of city codes. And I believe the power of eminent domain should indeed allow cities to acquire property to build items needed for the public good including bridges and streets.
But the court's ruling says that a city in need of tax revenue can approve a commercial development on the site where your home is located. Look for a rash of legislative action out of states to help clarify this new ruling.
Through the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, Sikeston has begun acquiring properties that are sub-standard and pose a public health concern. That falls squarely into the legal category. But this week's ruling opens a new can of worms. All in all, it was an odd decision.
I don't look for an explosion of development within cities as a result of the ruling. But it does open the door to a commercial developer eying a prime piece of property and then convincing city fathers that his development will increase tax revenue. That seems to undermine the property rights of individuals in a way never before imagined.
Speaking of property rights, we all need to keep an eye on the Sikeston Housing Authority during their upcoming meeting. The Housing Authority has been asked by the Public Safety Department to declare additional sections of Sikeston's westend as "high crime" areas and to prohibit subsidized housing in those areas. In all, 13 Section 8 homes would be removed because they are located in these "high crime" areas. The request from Public Safety was in response to the disturbance earlier this month near Ruth and Branum. We hope the Housing Authority quickly approves the new restrictions and sends a clear message that these actions will not be tolerated.
And finally, this week's court ruling further illustrates the growing power of the court system. We are drifting toward an imbalance in this country where the three branches of government - executive, legislative and judicial - are being tilted toward far too much power within the courts. I don't believe that was the Constitution's original intent. It's up to us to fix this growing imbalance.