In America, there have been severe allegations that activist judges have grown. This has been the result of some decisions that have been taken by judges that have not gone down well with most politicians and other people.
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Diverse views are raised on the ruling of judges. For some activist judges exist and for others, there does not exist any judges that are activists; rather those you disagree with in their judgments do turn out to be so (at least in your sight.) sensitive cases that have drawn a lot of hullabaloos has been those involving same sex, stem cell operations, abortion among others.
The original dissent on cases relating to eminent domain was set up by Justice O’Connor. In her previous ruling she stated that it was allowed for private property to be transferred to another private individual for economic development as long as it is bound to be improved and used in a way that is beneficial to the public in itself or in the process of development (Bodenhamer & Ely 14). This precedent has opened leeway for abuse.
The case of Kelo vs. The City of New London is one of eminent domain. It was worked out following the precedent set by Justice O’Connor. The facts of this case relate to the use of eminent domain. New London, which is a city in Connecticut, ceased some property that was not for public use and sold it to some people who were to develop it for private purposes (Merriam & Ross 180).
The city was of the opinion that by coming up with these developments, jobs would be created in the process. Equally there was to be an increase in revenues from taxes. Kelo Susette and some other people who had lost their land by this repossession placed a suit in court against New London.
The issues relating to the case included: the property owners raised an argument that by its actions, the city was in essence violating the Fifth Amendment’s clause that deals with takings. In this clause, a provision is made for the government to accord just compensation for any private property taken by them. Another issue arising was the determination of whether taking this property and selling it to private developers was in essence a public use of the land.
The Supreme Court of Connecticut ruled in favour of New London. In his ruling, Justice John Paul Stevens, stated that the taking qualified to be for public use in relation to the takings clause. The city by taking the land did not intend to benefit a certain group of privates but was intended for an economic development plan.
Further the judge noted that the Fifth Amendment was not after the literal public use but rather broader interpretation that could include public purpose. The bench of judges was accused of being an activist in this case. Upon this ruling, there was outrage and politics in New London became rife. This forced there to be council elections.
Due to the claims of activism among judges, Pfizer, which was the drug company that had been allocated the land for a public purpose, announced that it was getting out of the deal and was not going to develop the property again. This was as an aftermath of the public outrage on the seizure of the land.
The research center that they had initially set up had to be shut down. Another aftermath of this case is that States were left struggling to clearly define what eminent domain was to envisage. States were asked to consider their individual standards for eminent domain.
This case is considered to be activist because the court was accused of having to strain what would otherwise be the plain implications by the constitution to end up achieving their predetermined desirable ends. The main reason the Fifth Amendment Act was formulated was to protect government infringement into private property.
Public use of the land should then have indicated that the land be applied generally for public purposes and not be given to a private developer. The court was accused of having abused the precedent that was set by Justice O’Connor. Concerns were further raised that the court put an emphasis on what originally was supposed to be a public use to be a public purpose. Basing on this, there is created an endless way in which the clause can be abused.
Bodenhamer, David & Ely, James. The Bill of Rights in modern America. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2008. Print.
Merriam, Dwight & Ross, Mary. Eminent domain use and abuse: Kelo in context. Chicago, Illinois: American Bar Association, 2006. Print.