In a recent op-ed piece, Nicholas Loyal took the Missouri Supreme Court to task for its decision in City of Arnold v. Tourkakis, (“Court’s ruling threatens Missouri property rights,” 4/8). It is a fine piece of political rhetoric, it completely misses the mark as a critique of a judicial opinion.
He objects to the court’s failure to strike a blow for property rights in a TIF project. But that case presented no opportunity for the court to do so. The redevelopment statutes were adopted by the general assembly, and the court was merely construing their application to a third-class city.
The issue was a narrow one: Did the State Constitution authorize the General Assembly to grant eminent domain powers to third class cities, such as Arnold, and had it done so?
These questions were not completely free from doubt, but the court’s decision was certainly a reasonable and plausible construction of the constitution and relevant statutes, and it was entirely consistent with prior cases. To criticize it for failing to decide issues that were not before it, on theories that were not argued to it, is simply silly.
Professor of Law Emeritus
University of Missouri