Maryland Blogger Alliance

Alliance FAQs

Latest MBA Posts

June 28, 2005

"This is not a prank"

Well, it didn't take long for someone to figure out a way to protest the Supreme Court's recent decision holding that governments can use eminent domain to take property and give it to another private citizen or business as part of a redevelopment plan, interpreting the constitutional requirement that takings be for "public use" to mean "public purpose."

Freestar Media has issued a press release indicating that it has begun the process of asking the Town of Weare, New Hampshire, to allow a group of investors to build a hotel on the property where Justice Souter's house is located. (Souter joined the majority opinion.)

The press release notes:

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.
And it goes on to say:
"This is not a prank" said Clements, "The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development."
This is known as guerrilla theater.

(Hat tip: fee simple)

UPDATE (6/29): This reminds me of a decision by the D.C. Circuit en banc in the early 1980s called Community for Creative Non-Violence v. Clark, 703 F.2d 586 (D.C. Cir. 1983) (later reversed by the Supreme Court). CCNV wanted a permit to sleep in tents on the Mall to bring attention to the plight of the homeless. The majority held that this was expressive speech and that the Park Service could not deny a permit under the First Amendment. Judge Wilkey's dissent went through some hypothetical protests, wondering why they wouldn't be covered by the majority's ruling. The last was this one (no link, but you can find it at page 621):
This court rules that the Park Service must permit a First Amendment exception to its ban on camping in the Memorial core area parks. A group of citizens here on holiday, with homes of their own and no particular gripe with hotel prices (other than a disinclination to pay them), applies for a First Amendment camping permit "to demonstrate the absurdity of the holding of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that allows us to camp on the Mall."

Here, the message is substantial, the parties might well be sincere, and the means-end fit is perfect. The Park Service, it appears, would have no choice but to issue the permit.
This is almost as good as a pizza delivery hypothetical.