America as a free nation died Thursday. Death came without mercy at the hands of the United States Supreme Court which ruled, in a split 5-4 decision, that a city has the right to steal an American citizen’s property without due course and turn it over to private developers.

Death came to America after a prolonged period of life support. The United States has, for too long, been in a persistent vegetative state, brought on by a government that has abandoned the protections once guaranteed by the Constitution. The Bush administration, using fear of terrorism as a political sledgehammer, has stripped Americans of the right to counsel, the right to privacy and threatened even freedom of expression by suggesting that anyone who dares disagree with Dubya’s extremist right-wing views is a traitor to the flag.

But the Supreme Court yanked this ailing nation off life support Thursday by proving, as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has said, the “Constitution is an outdated document.”

Incredible. Simply incredible. The Supremes, abandoning any reason, ruled the City of New London, CT, can seize property of private homeowners and give it to a private developer who wants to build condos and office buildings along the city’s waterfront.

“The U.S. Supreme Court destroyed everybody’s lives today, everybody who owns a home,” said Richard Beyer, who will lose his property in New London.

The Supreme Court destroyed far more. It destroyed the American way of life, the American dream of home ownership and the concept that one’s property is their own and protected from those who want it for their own greedy purposes.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor voted against the court’s appalling ruling and wrote the dissent.

“Today the Court abandons this long-held, basic limitation on government power,” Justice O’Connor wrote. “Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner.”

Up until now, we have had to depend on the court to stop the ever-increasing encroachment by the government into our lives. The courts have been the only path left to stop the Bush administration’s assault on freedom and the Constitution.

No more. The last hope for America died when the court sided with land speculators and fatcats who already control all the other branches of local, state and federal governments with their checkbooks and political action committees.

At one time, we who called America home considered it the home of the brave and the land of the free.

No more. We ceased being the home of the brave on September 11, 2001, when a band of thugs hijacked airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. Our president, seizing on the politics of the moment, used fear to turn this nation into a police state.

On Thursday, five justices of the U.S. Supreme Court destroyed the land of the free. If people cannot own property without living in fear that the government can take it and turn it over to the fatcats who own our elected officials, then we are no longer free.

“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” songwriter Kris Kristofferson wrote in his song, Me and Bobby McGee.

There’s nothing left to lose. The government and the courts have taken it all.