They keep getting the nuance wrong.
Legislators Move to Blunt Eminent Domain Ruling. Here's what they, mostly Republicans I gather but some Democrats, too, want to do:
House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) said he will introduce a Private Property Rights Protection Act that will prohibit any state or municipality from using federal funds for any project in which economic development is used as a justification for exercising eminent domain.
So? Sounds OK to me. But Pelosi and Obey focus, can you believe it, on separation of powers.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at an earlier news conference that "very central in that Constitution is the separation of powers."
"When you withhold funds from enforcing a decision of the Supreme Court, you are in fact nullifying a decision of the Supreme Court," Pelosi said. "This is in violation of the respect of separation of powers in our Constitution -- church and state as well. Sometimes the Republicans have a problem with that, as well."
In opposing a Republican amendment about the issue today, Rep. David Obey (Wis.), ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said on the floor today that the decision was "nutty" but that the solution is legislation or a constitutional amendment, not punitive measures.
"The idea that this House, every time we don't like a court decision, should decide that we're not going to allow federal money to be used to enforce that court decision is as nutty as the original court decision in the first place," Obey said. "So I would hope that we would recognize that the Founding Fathers created the system of separation of powers. They created three independent branches of government for a purpose."
Couldn't they at least say something like "real problem, bad solution?" Yes, Obey says something like that but it gets buried in his objection to a Republican proposal; the Dems should be out front vigorously proposing their own wise solutions rather than reacting to bad Republican ones.
And I don't even understand their objection. What's so wrong with deciding to "prohibit any state or municipality from using federal funds for any project in which economic development is used as a justification for exercising eminent domain?" That's what the Republicans suggest and it might not be the very best proposal possible (though it doesn't sound too bad at first blush) but I don't see how it interferes with separation of powers. It's simply using the power of the purse. That's what Congress is supposed to do. No?
Now it's conceivable that there may be some sort of federalism issue in that the feds are telling the states what to do...I don't think so (but, aw shucks, this lawyering is way above my pay grade.) The Feds would be saying -- "You can't spend Federal money unless you meet this requirement..." Don't they do that all the time? They aren't prohibiting locals from throwing old people out of their homes so developers can put up more Wal-Mart stores....merely saying you can't spend Federal money. Do I misunderstand?