Sunday, July 14, 2024

Leftist Wisc. Judges Redefine ‘Sidewalk’ to Justify Gov’t Property Theft

'We find several indications that the definition of pedestrian way does not include sidewalks...'

(Jacob Bruns, Headline USA) In violation of the U.S. Constitution’s guaranteed right to the acquisition and protection of one’s own property, Wisconsin judges redefined what a sidewalk is in order to allow the state to seize the property of a private business, Reason reported.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin ruled in Sojenhomer v. Village of Egg Harbor that a sidewalk is not a “pedestrian way,” allowing local governments to seize the land under eminent domain.

The Village of Egg Harbor condemned part of the land of the Shipwrecked Brew Pub and Restaurant in order to build a sidewalk. The owners, Sojenhomer LLC, sued Egg Harbor on the grounds that such a move would not be allowed under state statute.

Unfortunately for the Sojenhomer LLC and the state’s citizens, however, a leftist majority decided in a 4-3 decision that their property can be confiscated and condemned for the creation of sidewalks—by first reinterpreting, for sake of legal argument, the quintessential function of a sidewalk.

The state’s high court did so because a law on the books prohibits the use of eminent domain for the purposes of creating “pedestrian ways.”

Justice Rebecca Frank Dallet wrote the majority opinion, arguing that the state’s statute uses “pedestrian way” and “sidewalk” in ways that indicate the two are supposedly different in meaning.

“We find several indications that the definition of pedestrian way does not include sidewalks,” Dallet wrote.

With sidewalks and pedestrian ways differentiated, municipalities in the state no longer have to respect property rights.

In a dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Annette Kingsland Ziegler argued that a practical reading of the statute would suggest that “pedestrian ways” are used as a blanket term to cover sidewalks and other nonessential forms of infrastructure that inherently do not justify property confiscation.

“The plain language of the statute demonstrates that the term ‘pedestrian way’ is broadly defined, and includes sidewalks,” Ziegler wrote.

She called her view “a straightforward, common sense interpretation” of the statutory language, given that sidewalks are “constructed for the use of pedestrians.”

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