We've just heard that the City of Freeport has reached a settlement with Wright Gore, owner of the Western Seafood company, and a victim of eminent domain whose actions in defense of his property rights are nothing short of heroic.
The Hawaii Supreme Court declared last week that state courts ought not to simply take the government's word for it when the government claims it's condemning property for public use. Instead, courts should look into a taking to find out whether it is just a pretext for the benefit of a private party. This is (sad to say) a remarkable conclusion in today's world. As the Justices concluded, courts are "obligated to consider any and all evidence that [a property owner] argue[s] indicating that the private benefit [from a taking] predominate[s]" over the public benefit. (p. 77). Our friend Robert Thomas has more at inversecondemnation.com.
The paperback edition of Jeffrey Toobin's book The Nine has appeared, and, alas, despite the fact that Toobin was aware of many inaccuracies in his description of the Kelo case, and even invited corrections, he appears to have decided against fixing those errors. Our friend Gideon Kanner has the story.
Jacob Sullum at Reason magazine has a brief post here on the libel suit filed by millionaire developer H. Walker Royall against Carla Main, the author of the excellent book Bulldozed (available from Amazon, B&N, and from the publisher, Encounter books).
Everyone should read Bulldozed, as it is an excellent book on an issue of major public importance. It would make an excellent stocking stuffer for that liberty-minded friend or family member!
Under the First Amendment, a person who is a “public figure” is not allowed to use libel lawsuits to silence criticism. That’s from the famous Supreme Court decision of New York Times v. Sullivan. Even when you say something that isn’t exactly true about a public figure, that person is not allowed to sue, because the First Amendment protects robust, even abusive, public debate. And a “public figure,” as the Court explained in the case of Gertz v. Robert Welch, includes even private citizens who voluntarily inject themselves into matters of public controversy—including people who decide to participate in controversial redevelopment projects that involve using eminent domain to steal other people’s land. For such persons to try to stifle public criticism of their actions by filing libel lawsuits—including lawsuits against people who simply recommend that the public read a book!—is a clear abuse of the court system and a violation of the First Amendment.