Oregon Standoff: Why Scalia Warned Americans of "Internment Camps"

The Volokh Conspiracy over at the Washington Post has pointed out some of the monumental rulings that Antonin Scalia presided over during his three decades as Supreme Court Justice, highlighting how the renowned jurist broke with conservative tradition and successfully strengthened property rights.

Volokh Conspiracy wrote that before Justice Scalia, "the Court had been unwilling to rule that any but the most blatantly severe regulatory restrictions on property rights qualified as 'takings' that require 'just compensation' under the [5th] Amendment [Takings Clause,]" but that starting with Nollan v. California Coastal Commission in 1987, Justice Scalia worked to restrict "government’s power to force landowners to allow outsiders to use their property without" compensation.

That 1987 ruling would be followed 5 years later by Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, with Justice Scalia ruling that "regulation that completely wipes out all economically valuable uses of an owner’s land automatically qualifies as a taking."

In 2013, in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, Justice Scalia significantly strengthened the power of landowners, and 8 years earlier, in Kelo v. City of New London, Justice Scalia dissented, saying he "sought to revive judicial enforcement of the Fifth Amendment’s requirement that the government may only take private property for 'public use.'"

The standoff in Oregon between renegade rancher Cliven Bundy's supporters could be encapsulated with Justice Scalia's dissent in Kelo v. City of New London

The Federal government has taken over vast swaths of land that are not being put to public use, with ranchers suffering economic catastrophe. Justice Scalia would have vehemently fought to prevent the disenfranchisement of American landowners trying to sustainably manage the land around them.

Let's not kid ourselves
In 2014, the Intellectual Conservative wrote of reports that the Bureau of Land Management was planning to use Kelo v. City of New London to "justify the Federal seizure of private land," plans which were stifled by the attention the 2014 Bundy ranch standoff gave to the notorious ruling.

In fact, Justice Scalia twice publicly called on Kelo v. City of New London to be done away with, so that people's land could not just be stolen by economic vultures. 

In a speech in February of 2014, the late Justice warned the American people that Kelo v. City of New London would mean private corporations using eminent domain to steal private property.

During times of war, the United States has appropriated countless businesses and properties, often citing the effort against the enemy. Justice Scalia warned us that a mass campaign to seize people's land was coming, and he used the internment of Japanese-Americans to warn us that it was still possible for America to descend into mass tyranny.   

Justice Scalia was afraid that America was sliding into a form of governance that the Founding Fathers would have opposed, and it's not a coincidence that after speaking out against Kelo v. City of New London, he spoke out against the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II by then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

Scalia told us we were "kidding" ourselves if we thought "the same thing would not happen again." 

He used a Latin expression to explain why. “Inter arma enim silent leges … In times of war, the laws fall silent.”

Make no mistake about it, we're going to war against the Islamic State in Libya, and we're already at war with them in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, all while the law remains silent. The war effort will, naturally, require great sacrifice from many Americans, especially those who will have to give their land to the Federal government under "eminent domain."