WEARE, N.H. – In a largely symbolic gesture, voters in Supreme Court Justice David Souter's hometown weighed in Tuesday on a proposal to seize his 200-year-old farmhouse as payback for a ruling that expanded government's authority to take property.
Whatever the outcome of the vote, Souter's home was safe.
The vote was prompted by activists angered by the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision last year in a property rights case from Connecticut. Souter sided with the majority in holding that governments can take property and turn it over to private developers.
Originally, the ballot measure called for the seizure of Souter's home so that it could be turned into an inn called the Lost Liberty Hotel. But at a town meeting in February, residents of this town of 8,500 watered down the language.
The reworded measure asked the Board of Selectmen not to use their power of eminent domain to take the farmhouse. The measure also urged New Hampshire to adopt a law that forbids seizures of the sort sanctioned by the Supreme Court.
Souter has not commented on the matter.
"The idea is to use the ruling that David Souter voted for on David Souter, so that he can understand the importance of property rights and the error of the ruling," said Logan Darrow Clements of Los Angeles, a businessman who led the campaign to evict Souter.
Two of the major players pushing for the seizure of Souter's home were also running for the five-member Board of Selectmen on Tuesday.
Keith LaCasse, one of the candidates, said he would not lobby the board to seize Souter's home unless a proposal saying so appeared on next year's ballot.
"I would support it if people voted in favor," he said.
Even with the election of the two candidates, the board would still not have a majority in favor of seizing Souter's house.