Page last updated at 12:25 GMT, Monday, 23 January 2006

Campaign to seize US judge's home

Logan Clements canvasses for signatures in Weare
Logan Clements canvassed for signatures in Weare

Activists angered by a US Supreme Court ruling that homes can be demolished for developments are trying to seize the home of one of the judges involved.

About 60 people rallied in the small New Hampshire town of Weare on Sunday, where Justice David Souter has a house.

The protesters say they have enough signatures from Weare residents to put their proposal to a town vote in March.

They want a compulsory purchase order on the 200-year-old farmhouse, and say they will build a hotel in its place.

Campaign organiser Logan Clements, from Los Angeles, told supporters in Weare the Supreme Court had "shot a hole in the [US] Constitution".

I don't want my house to be taken away to be the next Disneyland
Campaign supporter Eric Dellinger

Judge Souter was in a 5-4 majority on the court panel that ruled last June that the city of New London in Connecticut could seize homes to make way for a hotel, convention centre, office space and flats.

The ruling gave government the right to seize homes for "public benefit", where previously they could only be taken for "public use".

Many fear the ruling means land can now be requisitioned for commercial ventures that benefit the local economy, not just public projects like road building.

The Supreme Court ruling has prompted many states, including New Hampshire, to consider tightening their laws on "eminent domain", or compulsory purchase.

'Very scary'

Mr Clements needed only 25 signatures calling for Mr Souter's house to be compulsorily purchased, to put the issue to a ballot of the 8,500 residents of Weare.

Logan Clements outside the New Hampshire home of US Supreme Court Justice David Souter
Mr Clements wants to turn Mr Souter's home into a hotel

He says he already has 188 names.

Weare resident Eric Dellinger signed the petition.

"I'm not sure that going after a justice is really the right way to do it," he told the Los Angeles Times.

"But this eminent domain thing is very scary. I don't want my house to be taken away to be the next Disneyland no matter how much good it would be for other people."

There was no comment on the petition from Justice Souter.

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