This land was your land, but now it's my land.
And Kennedy muses that "it seems ironic that 100 percent of the premium for this new development goes to the developer and not the property owner" (who is entitled only to the "fair market value" of her home and not a share in the marina's future revenues). Breyer agrees that the real problem here isn't the "public use" issue but rather whether this represents just compensation.
It doesn't look like the good folks of Fort Trumbull will garner many votes today at all—save for that of Justice Scalia, who channels the many libertarian amici in this case when he repeats that you can constitutionally condemn land and give it to a private entity—a railroad or public utility. "But you can't give it to a private corporation just because it might increase taxes."
Horton replies that giving the people of New London jobs is just as important as giving them a railroad.
Horton then concludes: "I have just four words this court should consider … but I'm not going to say them because I see my red light is on" (which amounts to 15 additional words). When Bullock stands for his rebuttal, Kennedy asks whether he knows what the four words were that Horton might have used.
Bullock does not. So a new Fort Trumbull gym membership to the first Frayster who can win this case (for either side) in just four words. Let me start you off:
"But we're libertarians, stupid."
"What would Rehnquist say?"
"You can't stop progress."
"Grande or Venti, sir?"
Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate.
Photograph of Sandra Day O'Connor on Slate's home page by Gary Hershorn/Reuters.