Friday, June 18, 2010

Scalia Angry, Frustrated over Inability to Make Broader Conservative Ruling over Beach Front Land Taking.

I don't know why I thought this story was incredibly interesting, or something to watch closely as it came up before the Supreme Court, but I'm glad it had the kind of outcome that was fair to everyone.
NY Times: I was outraged at beach property owners attempting to take ownership of beachfront sand added with Florida state taxpayer dollars. It's like they deserved the gift and extra land. Not a single Supreme Court justice agreed with the harebrained notion that some Florida property owners were entitled to the extra land created when the state widened the beach in front of their houses.

The case was brought after the state began adding sand to miles of eroded beaches in Florida’s panhandle. Homeowners said they should have exclusive access to the newly created beach, but the Florida Supreme Court said in 2008 that the owners had rights only to the old land. The owners said that would bring unwanted visitors, damaging their property values, and demanded compensation as a result of the court’s decision.
But as is the case now with this conservative activist Supreme Court, they were trying hard to expand the case before them:

But in an opinion issued Thursday, four justices came very close to creating an equally harebrained precedent: that a court decision about the application of a state’s property laws can amount to a “taking” of private property, as if a city or state had confiscated it.

It was clear from Justice Scalia’s opinion that he wanted to do that ... The harsh sarcasm he directed toward justices in disagreement may have reflected anger at his inability to win a fifth and deciding vote for his belief.

A typical authoritarian reaction to not getting their way.
Justice Scalia has never been a proponent of judicial minimalism, but even for him, the reach he attempted in this case was a little breathtaking. Fortunately, for the lack of one more vote, common sense dodged a bullet.
Leave it to the liberal level head justices to stay calm long enough to do the right thing:
Justice Stephen Breyer presented a calm rebuttal … he and Justice Anthony Kennedy reminded Justice Scalia, it was perfectly possible to decide the beach case without creating a huge new judicial doctrine.

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