Kelo ruling – Is your Church in danger?

Posted by on June 24, 2005

Okay…so let’s think about this for a moment. If the Smith family lives in their house and does not have any small business activity in the house, then the tax base for that bit of real estate is only what the Smith family earns over and above the minimum deductions. SCOTUS seems to be saying that if Mr. Entertainment Developer wants to raze the house of the Smith Family to replace it with his entertainment complex then it is clear that the increased tax base created by Mr. Entertainment Developer falls into the “Public Use” area of the 5th Amendment. Hmmm…

Justice Stevens explains this convolution thusly:

Indeed, while many state courts in the mid-19th century endorsed “use by the public” as the proper definition of public use, that narrow view steadily eroded over time. Not only was the “use by the public” test difficult to administer (e.g., what proportion of the public need have access to the property? at what price?),7 but it proved to be impractical given the diverse and always evolving needs of society.8 Accordingly, when this Court began applying the Fifth Amendment to the States at the close of the 19th century, it embraced the broader and more natural interpretation of public use as “public purpose.” See, e.g., Fallbrook Irrigation Dist. v. Bradley, 164 U.S. 112, 158—164 (1896). Thus, in a case upholding a mining company’s use of an aerial bucket line to transport ore over property it did not own, Justice Holmes’ opinion for the Court stressed “the inadequacy of use by the general public as a universal test.” Strickley v. Highland Boy Gold Mining Co., 200 U.S. 527, 531 (1906).9 We have repeatedly and consistently rejected that narrow test ever since.10

So it’s no longer “Public Use”, it’s now “Public Purpose”? I see.

My father’s family has attended the same church for most of the last century in a very depressed part of Kentucky. This little church exists at a cross roads. Several families, including the Pastor, lives in the immediate area as in within shouting distance of the little church. If I wanted to put a business on that lot that would employee most of the people in the little community wouldn’t that serve a “Public Purpose”? It would certainly raise the tax base for the plot of land since the Church pays no taxes whatever. It would provide both employment for the community as well as provide a service (whatever the business is selling). It seems this would meet all the criteria in Stevens’ opinion. Is your Church in danger?

In Lexington Kentucky Hustler was trying to get some land to put up one of their smut shops. Applying the Tax Test(Public Purpose) arguement, “Her Majesty” Teresa Issac, Mayor of Lexington, could have DRAMATICALLY increased the tax base for a depressed area of town by taking say, St. Paul’s Church and School on Short Street. How about that? A Hustler store replacing one of the oldest churches in Lexington. Before yesterday this was laughable. Today, is your Church in danger?

The real question now is what to do in the event a local government decides they need your house for a Walmart or your Church for a strip club…er…Adult Entertainment Complex. Can’t tell you what to do but I know what I do.

It’s clear that SCOTUS has made up its mind and absent STATE legislation to defend local homeowners and places of worship(yes, synagogues and mosques are threatened too) there is very little we can do short of what my friends in the radical environmental movement calls “direct action”. You wanna take my house and land for a shopping mall? Well, unless you can run faster than 833 feet per second I don’t suggest you try. You will take down my house with me in it.

Last modified on June 24, 2005

Categories: General
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One Response to “Kelo ruling – Is your Church in danger?”

  1. SingleMind Says:

    Heck yeah, your church has reason to be concerned. However, I would be more concerned with Christian schools and parents who home school than with churches themselves.

    If the teacher unions can buy off the city councils, they can help get Christian schools shut down, and parents who home school may find themselves being uprooted. I made that point in my blog last night.

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