AP headline Jan. 24, 2012: Judge says Wheeling can take 3 parcels for park.
What else need be said? That, in a nutshell, is a perfect illustration of where America stands in regards to constitutional private property rights – on shifty, sandy ground.
Recall Amendment Five, denying government the ability or authority to take private property “for public use, without just compensation.” Or, Samuel Adams, 1772, on The Rights of the Colonists: “The supreme power cannot justly take from any man, any part of his property without his consent, in person or by his representative.”
And yet, in West Virginia, Ohio County Circuit Judge Arthur Recht ruled that yes, the city can take private landowners’ properties via eminent domain to use for an athletic field and park project for the Wheeling Central Catholic High School because – here it comes – it’s public use.
The case, of course, is headed to the state Supreme Court for appeal. At issue is the fate of at least three homeowners who don’t want to sell. But this case represents yet one more mind-boggling interpretation of the Constitution’s “public use” clause to favor government over individual – a dangerous trend that will no doubt continue as our nation continues its 180-degree turn from all-things-Founding Father.