Supreme Court candidate Judge Sotomayor’s ruling record is coming to light, and it’s not a pretty picture where property rights are concerned.
Judge Sotomayor served as the senior judge on one 2006 case, Didden v. Village of Port Chester, which respected University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein described as “about as naked an abuse of government power as could be imagined.” Her judicial panel’s ruling might be the worst violation of property rights ever approved by a federal appeals court. It is part of a pattern of Judge Sotomayor’s pro-government rulings that run roughshod over the most basic of private property rights.
In the Supreme Court’s Kelo ruling, one property owner was forced to give her land to a private developer, for a fee, after public hearings. The Didden case was worse, because the land was taken without any public input.
Another Kelo comparison:
New London took the land around Ms. Kelo’s house in order to change it from residential use to a commercial use that purportedly was for the public good. Port Chester, to the contrary, did not claim to change the land use for the public good. Instead, it merely gave the land to a private developer who wanted to use it for the same purpose, a pharmacy, as the original owners. Instead of a CVS, the new owner used it for a Walgreens.
In essence, wrote Mr. Epstein and George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin, the taking of private property amounted to “out-and-out extortion” with government support. Yet Judge Sotomayor’s panel not only ruled against Mr. Didden’s property rights, but did so with a bare, six-paragraph order – as Mr. Somin described it, “without serious examination of the legal issues to any significant degree.”
Judge Sotomayor isn’t into explanations of her rulings, it seems, as her participation in the Ricci case that will go before the Court soon shows:
The district court judge who heard Ricci’s case ruled against him and his fellow plaintiffs. They appealed to the 2nd Circuit, the court on which Judge Sotomayor sits. In an unusual short and unsigned opinion, a panel of three judges, including Sotomayor, adopted the district court judge’s ruling without adding their own analysis. As Judge Jose Cabranes put it, in protesting this ruling later in the appeals process, “Indeed, the opinion contains no reference whatsoever to the constitutional claims at the core of this case. … This perfunctory disposition rests uneasily with the weighty issues presented by this appeal.”
In Brody v. Village of Port Chester, she joined a ruling in favor of the original owner – but on procedural grounds alone, while refusing to order the remedy of returning the property to him. The panel added a gratuitous paragraph saying that government’s eminent-domain powers are quite “broad.” In the case of In re St. Johnsbury Trucking Co., the judge admitted that a regulation wiped out an owner’s property value but approved it anyway without any compensation.
Apparently wise Latina women are as much into government theft of private property as the white men on the Supreme Court in Kelo were.