Friday, June 1, 2012

Activist judge guts housing law

Once again, activist courts are where progress goes to die.

Two years ago, the city of San Jose, California, passed a new law that said 15% of housing in new developments has to sell for a reduced cost. This ordinance was designed to alleviate the behind-the-scenes price-gouging that has driven up housing prices.

But now a county court has struck this law down, calling it unconstitutional. The judge said there was no relationship between overpriced housing and housing shortages - and that such a relationship had to be shown in order to uphold the law. But the judge's dictates are faulty: The notion that making homes too expensive creates a shortage of affordable housing needs no elaboration. Plus, even if that link couldn't be made, the city still has a right to place regulations on developers. Such a rule might not be ideal if the link can't be made, but that doesn't make it unconstitutional. The purpose of courts is not to second-guess legislators.

In other words, the ruling is yet another exercise in right-wing judicial activism that favors the Wall Street 1%. America has become a dictatorship in robes.

Now get this: The developers who fought San Jose's law said the ruling is a win for homebuyers. Seriously, they said that. This statement only serves to highlight the phony populism that marginalizes the working poor. Whenever Wall Street talks about "the people" or any subgroup like homebuyers, it's always to the exclusion of those at the lower end of the economic scale. Modern America may be the only society that's ever had mob rule by the financially secure.


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