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?(via The Corner)
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.
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.
So the Supreme Court is analogous to God? It is Ms. Pelosi who is bringing church into state. Ms. Pelosi is either misunderstanding the question or being coy to avoid alienating any constituency. I think she's swift enough to know what the issues are so it is not a case of misunderstanding.
My reading of her answer is that she will not support legislation which would deny federal funds to a city for a project where eminent domain is used for commercial purposes. The Supreme Court has said the use of eminent domain for commercial purposes is permissable. It has not said the legislative branch of government may not limit funding for such projects; the Supreme Court has not said it will encroach on the legislative branch's power to decide how the public's money is spent. That separation of powers - not to be confused with separation of church and state.
In her answer she attributes to the Republicans the idea of cutting off funding for the operations of the Supreme Court. That would be a violation of separation of powers, but the Republicans have no such plans. The Republicans may not like this decision of the Court, but they are not threatening the powers of the court. Let's remember it was a Democrat president (FDR) who did that.