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Redefining Federalism

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Community Rights Report Newsletter -
2004 Quote of the Month Archive


The [Fifth Amendment's] "public use" requirement is thus coterminous with the scope of a sovereign's police powers.

Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff, (467 U.S. 229 1984)


The Court as an institution and the legal system as a whole have an immense stake in the stability of our Commerce Clause jurisprudence as it has evolved to this point.

United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 574 (1995) (Kennedy, J., joined by O'Connor, J., concurring).


"[T]he implementation of the Caernarvon coastal diversion project fits precisely within the public trust doctrine. * * * The State simply cannot allow coastal erosion to continue; the redistribution of existing productive oyster beds to other areas must be tolerated under the public trust doctrine in furtherance of this goal."

Avenal v. Louisiana (La. Oct. 19, 2004).


Municipal institutions constitute the strength of free nations. Town meetings are to liberty what primary schools are to science; they bring it within the people's reach, they teach men how to use and how to enjoy it. A nation may establish a free government, but without municipal institutions it cannot have the spirit of liberty.

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (Chapter V)


In a regulatory takings case, the court's task is "to distinguish the point at which regulation becomes so onerous that it has the same effect as an appropriation of the property through eminent domain or physical possession."

Williamson County Reg'l Planning Comm'n v. Hamilton Bank
, 473 U.S. 172, 199 (1985)

JULY 2004

"Jefferson realized that the exercise of property rights might so interfere with the rights of the individual that the government, without whose assistance the property rights could not exist, must intervene, not to destroy individualism but to protect it."

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Commonwealth Club Address (Source: New York Times, September 24, 1932).

JUNE 2004

"Property is that which is peculiarly yours, whether it is your money, your wife, your children, your house, your car, or your real estate."

Don Gerdts, Property Rights Council of America, in Albany Times-Union, April 11, 1992

MAY 2004

The development of national institutions and global enterprises does not lessen the importance of state and local governments. If anything, it makes them all the more necessary. The very impersonality of global trends and national bureaucracy will leave state and local governments among the few places where a sense of civic connection with governing institutions can still be felt.

Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, III, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Speech to the American Enterprise Institute entitled "Is There a Distinctive Conservative Jurisprudence?" (March 5, 2001)

APRIL 2004

"At last! We finally got to be number one. Praise the Lord!"

Jack Shockey, president of Citizens for Property Rights, responding to recent data showing formerly-rural Loudoun County, Virginia, to be the fastest growing county in the nation.

MARCH 2004

"For the system to work as it should, the judges must be perceived to be honest, to be without bias, to have no tilt in the cause that is being heard."

Honorable Abner J. Mikva, Former Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (criticizing FREE Seminars).


"[T]he true test of federalist principle may lie, not in the occasional constitutional effort to trim Congress' commerce power at its edges, or to protect a State's treasury from a private damages action, but rather in those many statutory cases where courts interpret the mass of technical detail that is the ordinary diet of the law."

Egelhoff v. Egelhoff (2001) (Breyer, J., dissenting) (arguing that appropriate limits on preemption promotes federalism).


"It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country."

New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann, 285 U.S. 262, 311 (1932) (Brandeis, J., dissenting).

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