Constitutional originalists shuddered when Justice Stevens exercised his intellectual ingenuity in Kelo v. City of New London to do to the Takings Clause of the 5th Amendment what veterinarians commonly do to tomcats. And Yolo County, California is currently in the process of providing further opportunity for judicial creativity.
New London succeeded in winning the right to take residents’ homes by eminent domain, in order to convey their properties to developers, whose residential and commercial projects would promote the city’s economic development. Yolo County wants to seize the 17,300 acre Conaway Ranch, and operate it itself, precisely in order to preclude economic development.
The county intends to get the money from the spectacularly civic-minded (and casino-owning) Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians. The noble red men might be looking for space for another bingo hall, what do you think?
But all this is taking place in America’s Dystopian Future, California, where nobody misses a trick. The beleagured ranchers have reorganized themselves into a rival preservation organization, the Conaway Preservation Group, complete with wildlife management plan.