Opinion | Texas makes the most unconservative argument on the Supreme Court


The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, is Congress’ crowning achievement since it prompted the ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791. His second and third greatest time in Congress, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, enforced the Fourteenth Amendment’s promise to protect the rights of the people.

Nevertheless, next Tuesday at the Supreme Court, the ostensibly conservative Texas government, supported by what is considered the most conservative of the 13 federal appeals courts, will face a fundamentally unconservative You will make a point. This argument would reflect a misunderstanding of the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment.

Richard De Villiers’ case raises the question: Does the Constitution matter if states can circumvent its provisions, said Robert J. McNamara of the Institute for Justice, who represents Richard De Villiers? Is it? The facts of this case are undisputed, as should the relevant constitutional provisions.

The Texas Department of Transportation is renovating a section of Interstate 10 that caused devastating flooding on the De Villiers farm and nearby farms east of Houston. Texas does not dispute that the flood was a flood. was intended This was the result of a change in the shape of the highway, which was designed to act as a dam to allow traffic on one side of the highway during and after heavy rains. this is. . .was Assumption A vast rainwater adjustment pond will be built on the opposite side.

Texas has responded to periodic farmland flooding by refusing to make any changes to its dams or even allowing Mr. de Villiers to use Yumbo to reduce damage to his dams. And the state of Texas has yet to dispute the obvious fact that this constitutes an “expropriation” of de Villiers’ land for “public use.” Instead, Texas transferred Mr. de Villiers’ and other injured farmers’ lawsuits to federal court, but the state passed a statute authorizing such lawsuits under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He argued that he had no standing to sue the state unless he did so.

But the proposed amendment is a model to make clear that private property may not be taken “for public use without just compensation.” The compensation is subject to no conditions other than amendments, and its 809-year history dates back to Magna Carta in 1215.

One magistrate judge sided with property owners, slamming Texas’ “pretzel logic” for shredding “hundreds of years of constitutional law in one fell swoop.” This logic allows states to seize property, avoid paying compensation, and leave injured owners without federal remedies for constitutional violations. The judge said the Fifth Amendment “comes to life when the government takes away private property.” It is “self-executing,” does not require Congressional authorization, and “expressly directs remedies.”

Although the district court affirmed the magistrate’s reasoning, the Fifth Circuit reversed, ignoring the fact that the Fourteenth Amendment was written to protect individual rights. against the state. The conservative government in Texas says:

Trust us, we respect property rights. Trust us to protect them. Trust us to give you fair compensation for your take. But because Congress has never allowed individuals to sue states, citizens cannot sue the federal government if states claim that compliance with the Fifth Amendment’s Burdens Clause is discretionary.

Astonishingly, 233 years after the Fifth Amendment was added to the Constitution and 156 years after the Fourteenth Amendment was added, respectively, the Supreme Court ruled that without the authorization of Congress, the Supreme Court would not be able to file a lawsuit in federal court. must reject Texas’ argument that it cannot cause As if the Fourteenth Amendment was written not to protect individual rights, but to strengthen the power of Congress.

The proposed amendment states: “No State shall make or enforce any law abridging the privileges or immunities of its citizens.”This language was written to protect freed black people from oppression. By stateaimed to protect the rights of all people, which are fundamental to national citizenship.

But in 1873, the Supreme Court watered down the Privileges or Immunities Clause in a fiasco that Texas is exploiting 151 years later. The court interpreted this to refer only to some vague federal rights, not enumerated constitutional rights or unenumerated rights held by citizens (see the Ninth Amendment). Since then, the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause has often been cited clumsily to protect some people’s civil rights.

The framers of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments believed that democracy works best when it is instilled with mistrust. In fact, the entire Constitution thoroughly affirms this basic conservative proposition. In other words, prudence defines an enduring distrust of the idea that majoritarian institutions can be trusted to adequately protect individual rights. Come Tuesday, conservative Texans will have to look away in bewilderment.



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