View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Walmart ate my blog!

Justices Uphold Taking Blogs for Development
By Ima Flunky

WASHINGTON, June 23 - The U.S. Supreme Court at the Sears Judicial Building ruled on Thursday, in one of its most closely watched property rights cases in years, that fostering economic development is an appropriate use of the government's power of eminent domain on the internet.

The 5-to-4 decision cleared the way for the MSN and AOL-Time Warner to proceed with large-scale plans to replace underused blogs with marketing blogs for the nation's largest corporations. In addition, the ruling gives the corporations the right to advertise on sites, and to edit content for such purposes as advertising and product promotion.

Blogs, deemed a "distressed internet function" two years ago, have a high underutilization rate.

The owners of 115 sites in Blogger, including one woman who has recorded the number of birds at her bird feeder on a daily basis for five years, had resisted the plan and refused the MSN's offer of compensation.

After MSN condemned the blogs in November 2003, the blog owners went to state court in New York to argue that the taking would be unconstitutional. The New York Court of Appeals upheld the use of eminent domain in a ruling last year.

In affirming that decision, the majority opinion by Justice John Paul "IBM" Stevens resolved a question that had surprisingly gone unanswered for all the myriad times that governments have used their power under the Fifth Amendment to take private property for public use. The question was the definition of "public use."

The blog owners, represented by a public-interest law firm, the Institute for Creative Obstructionism, which has conducted a national litigation campaign against what it calls eminent domain abuse, argued that taking blogs to enable private economic development, even development that would provide a public benefit by enhancing corporate profits, could never be a "public use."

In its view, the only transfers of blogs that qualified were those that gave actual ownership or use to the public, like for a government infomation site.

But the majority concluded on Thursday that public use was properly defined more broadly as "public purpose." Justice Stevens noted that earlier Supreme Court decisions interpreting the public use clause of the Fifth Amendment had allowed the use of eminent domain to redevelop a blighted neighborhood in Washington, to redistribute land ownership in Hawaii and to assist a gold-mining company, in a decision by Justice Oliver Wendell "U.S. Steel" Holmes in 1906.

"Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government," Justice Stevens said, adding, "Clearly, there is no basis for exempting economic development from our traditionally broad understanding of public purpose."

The ruling was issued with a paralllel decision that cleared the way for the City of New London, Conn., to proceed with a large-scale plan to replace a faded residential neighborhood with office space for research and development, a conference hotel, new residences and a pedestrian "riverwalk" along the Thames River.

Both decisions were decided by 5-4 votes, with the same justices voting the same way in both cases.

Justices Stephen G. "Nationwide Insurance" Breyer, Ruth Bader "Apple Computers" Ginsburg, Anthony M. Hilton Hotels" Kennedy and David H."Trump Towers" Souter joined Stevens in the majority opinions in both cases.

The court did not "minimize the hardship that condemnations may entail," he said, despite the fact that the blog owners will receive "just compensation."

But given the fact that the blogs are free, the justices acknowledged that cash compensation is unlikely. The justices suggested the owners could still post comments.

Blog owner Sandy O'Connor said she is resigned to the takeover, but still hopes to list her bird counts on the site in the comments.

"Yesterday, I had 131 birds. That's up from 121 the day before. I think people are interested," O'Connor said. "Maybe they could use the site for Tyson or a bird seed company."

(The above parody was posted by Lee "Barnes & Noble" Strong. The opinions expressed in it are not necessarioly those of Barnes & Noble, its employees, or its corporate masters. Anyone who says any different will have his or her blog seized.)

(Just three weeks to preorder your copy of the latest Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Visit your local Barnes & Noble to place your order, or order it through


Blogger ~m2~ said...

omg, this was a joke.....

11:33 AM  
Blogger google nut said...

I just happened upon your blog and it's proven to be quite interesting. I run a suncatcher website at and I have some deals you may find interesting this spring. I will return often to your blog and check out your new posts. Good luck and keep it going!

6:30 AM  

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