Page:United States Reports, Volume 545.djvu/572

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521
Cite as: 545 U. S. 469 (2005)

Thomas, J., dissenting

Ante, at 477478. It is difficult to imagine how a court could find that a taking was purely private except by determining that the taking did not, in fact, rationally advance the public interest. Cf. ante, at 502503 (O’Connor, J., dissenting) (noting the complicated inquiry the Court’s test requires). The Court is therefore wrong to criticize the “actual use” test as “difficult to administer.” Ante, at 479. It is far easier to analyze whether the government owns or the public has a legal right to use the taken property than to ask whether the taking has a “purely private purpose”—unless the Court means to eliminate public use scrutiny of takings entirely. Ante, at at 477478, 488489. Obliterating a provision of the Constitution, of course, guarantees that it will not be misapplied.

For all these reasons, I would revisit our Public Use Clause cases and consider returning to the original meaning of the Public Use Clause: that the government may take property only if it actually uses or gives the public a legal right to use the property.

IV

The consequences of today’s decision are not difficult to predict, and promise to be harmful. So-called “urban renewal” programs provide some compensation for the properties they take, but no compensation is possible for the subjective value of these lands to the individuals displaced and the indignity inflicted by uprooting them from their homes. Allowing the government to take property solely for public purposes is bad enough, but extending the concept of public purpose to encompass any economically beneficial goal guarantees that these losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities. Those communities are not only systematically less likely to put their lands to the highest and best social use, but are also the least politically powerful. If ever there were justification for intrusive judicial review of constitutional provisions that protect “discrete and insular minorities,” United States v. Carolene Products Co., 304 U. S.