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Key Excerpt: Grassley Questions Sotomayor on Property Rights

CQ Transcriptions

GRASSLEY: Could you explain what your understanding is of the state of the Fifth Amendment's taking cause jurisprudence after the Supreme Court decision in Kelo? Senator Brownback said this aptly when Chief Justice Roberts was before this committee: Quote, "Isn't it now the case that it is much easier for one man's home to become another man's castle?"

Your general understanding of the takings clause?

SOTOMAYOR: Good afternoon, Senator Grassley. And it's wonderful to see you again.

Thank you.

SOTOMAYOR: I share your view of the importance of property rights under the Constitution. As you know, I was a commercial litigator that represented national and international companies, and it wasn't even the case that it was a difference between developed and underdeveloped countries.

Many of my clients who were from developed countries chose to -- in part, to invest in the United States because of the respect that our Constitution pays to property rights in its various positions, in its various amendments.

With respect to the Kelo question, the issue in Kelo, as I understand it, is whether or not a state who had determined that there was a public purpose to the takings under the -- the takings clause of the Constitution that requires the payment of just compensation when something is -- is condemned for use by the government, whether the takings clause permitted the state, once it's made a proper determination of public purpose and use, according to the law, whether the state could then have a private developer do that public act, in essence. Could they contract with a private developer to effect the public purpose?

And so the holding as I understood it in Kelo was a question addressed to that issue.

SOTOMAYOR: With respect to the importance of property rights and the process that the state must use, I just point out to you that in -- in another case involving that issue that came before me in a particular series of cases that I had involving a village in New York, that I -- I ruled in favor of the property rights -- the property owner's rights to challenge the process that the state had followed in his case and to hold that the state had not given him adequate notice of their intent to use the property -- well, not adequate notice not to use the property, but to be more precise, that they hadn't given him an adequate opportunity to express his objection to the public taking in that case.

Read the entire exchange between Sen. Grassley and Judge Sotomayor. Read more on individual rights.

By  |  July 14, 2009; 2:40 PM ET
Categories:  Hearings , Supreme Court , Topics: Individual Rights  
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