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Pelosi on Cornyn's Eminent Domain Bill

Leonard Gilroy
June 30, 2005, 4:30pm

There was an illuminating exchange in Rep. Nancy Pelosi's press conference yesterday regarding Sen. Cornyn's bill that would restrict the use of federal funds in cases where eminent domain is used for economic development purposes. Here's the excerpt: I'll give her a mulligan for the ludicrous misunderstanding about withholding funding for the Court. Doh! But to go on and claim that such a measure would be "withhold[ing] funds from enforcing a decision of the Supreme Court" is almost as inexplicably ludicrous. I'n no legal scholar, but it still seems pretty clear to me that the fact that an activity has been deemed Constitutional by the Court has no bearing on Congress' willingness to allocate (or remove, as the case may be) funding for that activity. A commenter on Volokh's site agrees: "The funniest thing (IMHO) about Pelosi's comment is that she doesn't understand the Supreme Court's role at all. The Court has set the boundary of the eminent domain power. There is no requirement that Congress go all the way to that boundry, nor is there any requirement that Congress fund anything ever. Art. 1, 8 of my copy of the Constitution says that funding is completely within the purview of the congress. How is it that the House Minority Leader doesn't understand the relative roles of congress and the supreme court? Can anyone explain that?" Another is even more direct: "How about a bill appropriating federal funds to teach Rep. Pelosi that when the Supreme Court rules that a practice is constitutional, the practice is not mandatory?" Ouch. Well deserved, though. And it is indeed frustrating that someone in her position can't even articulate a response to the "what do you think about eminent domain" question. It is simply not a serious position for a legislator to say that "I agree with whatever the Court says." When even Bernie Sanders and Tom Delay are in agreement on a decision like this, you'd think that the door is wide open to take off the partisan filter and speak freely as a citizen. (Hat Tip: The Corner, via Instapundit)

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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