Nancy Pelosi on Property Rights: Who Needs ‘Em

Well okay, she didn’t really say that, but what she did say was almost as stupid.

Q Later this morning, many Members of the House Republican leadership, along with John Cornyn from the Senate, are holding a news conference on eminent domain, the decision of the Supreme Court the other day, and they are going to offer legislation that would restrict it, prohibiting federal funds from being used in such a manner.

Two questions: What was your reaction to the Supreme Court decision on this topic, and what do you think about legislation to, in the minds of opponents at least, remedy or changing it?

Ms. Pelosi. As a Member of Congress, and actually all of us and anyone who holds a public office in our country, we take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Very central to that in that Constitution is the separation of powers. I believe that whatever you think about a particular decision of the Supreme Court, and I certainly have been in disagreement with them on many occasions, it is not appropriate for the Congress to say we’re going to withhold funds for the Court because we don’t like a decision.

Q Not on the Court, withhold funds from the eminent domain purchases that wouldn’t involve public use. I apologize if I framed the question poorly. It wouldn’t be withholding federal funds from the Court, but withhold Federal funds from eminent domain type purchases that are not just involved in public good.

Ms. Pelosi. Again, without focusing on the actual decision, just to say that when you withhold funds from enforcing a decision of the Supreme Court you are, in fact, nullifying a decision of the Supreme Court. This is in violation of the respect for separation of church — powers in our Constitution, church and state as well. Sometimes the Republicans have a problem with that as well. But forgive my digression.

So the answer to your question is, I would oppose any legislation that says we would withhold funds for the enforcement of any decision of the Supreme Court no matter how opposed I am to that decision. And I’m not saying that I’m opposed to this decision, I’m just saying in general.–bold added to make reading a bit easier

So that load of incoherent blabbering holds that if you don’t fund something you don’t support it. So if a Democrat doesn’t vote to fund the troops in Iraq they really don’t support the troops. Gotcha Rep. Pelosi, thanks for clearing this up for us.

It is also nice to see that Pelosi thinks that government taking private property and giving to other private concerns is not worth fighting. Guess she really doesn’t think much of property rights. And some people wonder why the Democrats are viewed as economic boneheads.FN1

But this uppity reporter was persistent and kept asking questions of Rep. Pelosi about Kelo,

Q Could you talk about this decision? What you think of it?

Ms. Pelosi. It is a decision of the Supreme Court. If Congress wants to change it, it will require legislation of a level of a constitutional amendment. So this is almost as if God has spoken. It’s an elementary discussion now. They have made the decision.

Q Do you think it is appropriate for municipalities to be able to use eminent domain to take land for economic development?

Ms. Pelosi. The Supreme Court has decided, knowing the particulars of this case, that that was appropriate, and so I would support that.

In other words, Pelosi thinks it is just fine for a city to evict homeowners and give the land to another private concern so that they can do something else with the land. Sure, the homeowners might get a fair market price, but if the developer was going to improve the land so that the value of the land also increased the homeowner loses out on that benefit since such a benefit will not be reflected in a fair market price. Tell me again how the Republicans are the party of the rich and powerful and the Democrats are for the “little guy”. On second thought, please don’t bother the tortured logic would likely give me a headache.

Related OTB Posts:

Souter̢۪s House Targeted
Eminent Domain Ruling Affects Dallas Cowboys Stadium
So Much For Property Rights
Supreme Court Rules Cities May Seize Homes for Private Use
Supreme Court to Rule on Eminent Domain Limits
FN1Note that I’m not saying that Democrats are economic boneheads, but that does seem to be a view many people hold. Further, the Democrats are not noted for their staunch support for property rights, and Pelosi’s later comments confirm this…well that and the fact that she is an ignorant dingbat on this particular court decision.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. Wine-aholic says:

    Nancy, you ignorant slut.

    I think she needs to take a American Government 101 refresher course… saying that she ever did know how the government functions to begin with. Wow. And Bush is supposed to be the moron?

  2. billy says:

    this post is a bunch of nonesense. once again right wingers show they hate america. they hate the court. they hate the people we elect. they hate everything about our democracy. why don you just move to iran you fascists.

  3. Wine-aholic says:

    Wow, it’s like Billy has known me all my life!

  4. Fred says:

    I guess Pelosi is OK with combining religion and politics then, seeing as her hands are tied because “God has spoken.”

  5. Anderson says:

    Steve, is it really so impossible to think that there are some injustices which simply aren’t for the Supreme Court to redress?

    Look at the case about the woman who desperately tried to get the cops to enforce the TRO against her ex-husband, only to have them sit on their hands until he’d murdered their 3 daughters.

    TERRIBLE outcome. TERRIBLE behavior. And did the Supreme Court fix it? Nope. They said “this is a local problem, and if people don’t like it, they need to fix it locally.”

    Same with eminent domain. If it’s so outrageous to use eminent doman the way New Haven did, then why blame the Court? Why not turn some of that outrage into voting out the local officials and into getting state legislatures to pass eminent domain laws that protect homeowners?

    I thought *liberals* were the ones who thought the courts were the solution to everything. I guess that changed around the same time as “torture is un-American.” Lots of new developments to keep up with, these past 4 years ….

  6. Steve Verdon says:


    Here is a helpful hint, don’t post while off your meds.


    Yes, one could spin it as a state’s rights issue, but the problem is that property rights are part of the constitution (5th Amendment). Your argument can be applied to church and state, freedom of speech/press, due process, the right bear arms, etc. In short, your argument would toss the entire bill or rights and all other amendments back to the states and nullify any and all federal laws. I don’t think that is reasonable.

    Further, simply because I might favor a “states rights” approach to issue A, B and C does not mean I must therefore favor that view for any and all issues. Property rights, IMO, is one of the founding institutions that helped with the amazing economic growth we have in this country. Look at countries in Africa and one of the things you’ll note throughout the region is a lack of property rights or very ill-defined property rights.

    As for the TRO and the three daughters, I’m sorry that is a local issue. I sure don’t expect Justice Souter to run around in his robes enforcing TRO’s and other local laws and ordinances. So this is a strawman and red herring.

  7. mike jones says:

    Reporter question to Nancy Pelosi. If the Supreme court ruled to push California into the Pacific Ocean. Would you go along with their ruling? Her reply would be “Well, the Supreme Court has ruled on it, So they must be right.”
    I am so glad she is Minority Leader.

  8. charlotte says:

    The right to own property is fundamentally a right given to the people of the USA from the founding fathers.
    Moreover, when the right to own property is taken from the citizens – socialism is fast approaching. By tampering with our property rights in effect the courts have said that our unique sysytem of formal property law …the conversion process in that law that allows our citizens to create capital is being diminished.
    In other countries ( Haiti, Peru, Brazil, Egypt etc) how property is own directly effects how much capital can be made. With assets not really yours or subject to take over from the State, banks, investors and creditors will not loan, barter or trade in any great quantity, the results are dead capital, the loss of energy from the assets owned. _”The Mystery of Capital, Hernando De Soto.”

  9. J Wahlert says:

    Do you really think that Nancy Pelosi is just ignorant? Isn’t her husband a real estate developer?