New Hampshire is the newest battleground in the eminent domain fight, and Justice David Souter’s house is ground zero. In the Middle East, the Palestinian parliamentary campaigns are in full swing with the help of some U.S. funds. Plus, the West Wing will fly no more.
Reservation for Souter: A group of protesters descended on Supreme Court Justice David Souter’s home in Weare, N.H., this past weekend to publicize their campaign to evict the judge and transform his house into the “Lost Liberty Hotel.” The protesters are angry about Souter’s majority opinion in Kelo v. New London, in which Souter joined the majority opinion that local governments could use eminent domain to seize private property and redevelop an area. Local voters will vote on the proposal in March, thanks to the group’s success in collecting the 25 signatures necessary to get the issue on the ballot.
Blogging maven Ann Althouse, a law professor who declared in June that the Kelo decision “struck a reasonable balance between property rights and government power,” is scolding the activists. Althouse believes this tactic will irritate Weare residents and “is no way to demonstrate a concern for rights.” In the comments section of Reason magazine’s blog, Hit and Run, poster fyodor, a musician, takes things a step further and says the protest “makes libertarians look bad. If you think a judge erred in not giving a murderer the death penalty, should you get back at the judge by killing him?”
Some bloggers, though, praise the protesters. On the conservative Wizbang, contributor Rob Port suggests that the symbolism of the protest is more important than actually erecting a hotel. “[I]f all this does is wake some Americans up to the stupidity of exapnding eminent domain powers to ‘economic development’ projects it will be well worth it,” he says. At No Government Cheese, KJ agrees that the message, not the hotel, is paramount: “This type of abuse was wrong in New London, and it is wrong here. But I don’t think that is the point. Maybe Souter and his 4 fellow justices now recognize was ‘public purpose’ means.”
But John Jackson, a 22-year-old conservative from Texas and a blogger at the impossibly titled The Sands of Time Are Sinking the Dawn of Heaven Breaks, hopes the attempt to evict Souter will “cause [Supreme Court justices] to think twice about rendering such decisions in the future.”
Read more about the protest. Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick reported on the February 2005 oral arguments for Kelo here.
Hamas or Fatah?: On Wednesday, Palestinians will head to the polls for their first parliamentary elections in a decade. Though the votes won’t be cast for two days, today marks the last day of the campaign season as political parties Hamas and Fatah battle for power. But many bloggers are focusing on the $1.9 million in funding the U.S. government has provided to Fatah in hopes of keeping Hamas out of power.
Some observers are questioning the decision to support Fatah, the party of the late Yasser Arafat, financially. Leon Hader, a Middle East specialist for the Cato Institute, posts on Global Paradigms that this State Department funding might undermine the Bush administration’s claims of promoting democracy abroad by “intervening in free election (sort of) on the side of one candidate.”
Pergammon’sThomas, a University of Minnesota-Twin Cities student and a “slightly left of center” Democrat, is worried about the effect this funding could have on America’s image. “Funneling money to [Fatah] can only fuel the perception that the party is a lackey of the US and Israel, hardly a way to assemble support among the Palestinian public.”
Prominent right-winger Debbie Schulssel is also outraged, albeit for different reasons. “What ever happened to President Bush’s utterance of ‘Your either on our side or the terrorists’ side.’ Now, he, his State Department, and—by force of taxes—we are all on the terrorists’ side,” she bemoans. Israeli bloggers are equally despondent. “The US also supported Saddam up to the moment he invaded Kuwait in 1990. This decision doesn’t look much wiser,” sighs Carl in Jerusalem, an Israeli attorney who blogs at Israel Matzav.
Read more about the funding. Slate’s Emily Yoffe explained the Palestinian political groups in 2004.
West Wing no more: After seven seasons, NBC has canceled The West Wing, a once-hit that has stumbled since the departure of executive producer and creator Aaron Sorkin. The show was also hit recently by the death of John Spencer, who played vice presidential candidate Leo McGarry.
Many liberals, who have looked longingly at the show’s progressive president Jeb Bartlett during the Bush years, are dismayed. “I don’t know how I will live the next 3 years without my weekly one-hour fix of a Democrat in the White House,” poster Yellow Dog Dem Woman weeps on prominent liberal sounding board Daily Kos. “If ratings slump, advertisers wont pay and the show is removed. It’s so damn capitalist that it replaces quality with dribble,” complains graduate student Naseem Tarawnah on The Black Iris of Jordan. “There’s no way I’m watching Commander in Chief.”
Some conservatives, though, are crowing. Mike Williams of the righty PA Pundit, who calls West Wing “[t]he Democrat fairy tale,” sees only one downside to the cancellation. “We’re running out of shows to make fun of.”
Read more about the cancellation of The West Wing.