Sunday, February 5, 2006
From the Concord Monitor:
Weare voters put an end to plans to seize the home of U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter yesterday.
“He’s one of ours,” Walter Bohlin said, adding: “Why would we take something from one of ours?”
For seven months, Souter’s brown farmhouse and eight acres on Cilley Road have been the focal point of a nationwide response to a controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision. In June, Souter sided with a 5-4 majority in allowing a Connecticut city to seize private property by eminent domain and offer it to developers who could bring the community greater economic benefit.
Logan Darrow Clements, a California man who was incensed with the court’s ruling, devised a plot to give Souter his just desserts: take the justice’s property and convert it into a “Lost Liberty Inn.” Local residents petitioned to put the issue on the town’s March ballot.
The article asked the town to seize the land and create two trust funds: one to pay for any legal expenses and another to compensate Souter. The money would be raised by private donation.
The idea captured national media attention. Clements, a Los Angeles native, flew to Weare twice to hold rallies. Supporters deluged town officials with emails; some even sent checks and asked to reserve rooms at the inn.
Bohlin, who said the article was vengeful, recommended negating it by inserting the word “not.” Voters approved Bohlin’s suggestion by a secret ballot vote of 94-59.
Then another resident, Paul Doscher, suggested adding language to the article that urges state lawmakers to further restrict land seizures by eminent domain. The Legislature is considering several such proposals. The amended article forbids the town from seizing Souter’s land and asks Gov. John Lynch and lawmakers to bar the transfer of private property to private interests for economic development.
The amended article passed by a unanimous voice vote, followed by a loud cheer. Residents will vote on the measure next month.
Hat tips: Dave Hoffman and Cheryl Humes (who really should be studying for the bar, not surfing the web).
[Comments are held for approval; so there will be some delay in posting]