Kelo and Federal Money

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In the aftermath of Kelo, we are hearing people say that the push to stop such property theft should be done at the state level. I am all for that, but there is one problem: much of the so-called redevelopment that has spurred these property seizures is funded in part with federal taxes. Thus, even if state laws prohibit the kinds of property seizures that were embodied in Kelo, municipalities will be able to appeal to the federal government for permission to continue.

The precedent for this, I believe, comes with the asset forfeitures that have become very common. In the wake of adverse publicity of state and local police shaking down tourists and robbing them of any cash on hand ostensibly because that cash could be used to buy drugs, state legislatures began to pass laws that required local police departments to send all of the seized money to the state government.

No problem, said the Evil Janet Reno, who at that time headed the U.S. Department of (In)Justice. She told the police to bypass the states and send the money to the feds, which then would send half of it back to the local departments. Likewise, I am sure that the federal government will be all-too-happy to encourage the theft that was legalized with Kelo. No, this was NOT a victory for federalism. It was just another reminder that we are ruled by crooks and charlatans.

8:02 pm on July 10, 2005