October 24, 2005

Misuse of Eminent Domain is Spreading

As we all know Kelo v. New London changed the way we view property rights in this nation. The Fifth Amendment is very specific in its statement that private property shall not be taken for public use without due process and just compensation. The problem with eminent domain since the recent Supreme Court debacle has been the definition of "public use." According to the Supreme Court's interpretation you can lose your home to other private organizations if it will increase tax revenue for the local government. But how do these local government officials determine how they will use, or misuse, eminent domain? Usually through condemning an area and determining it to be "blighted." The term blighted in most states has a very, very loose definition and is being used at an alarming rate by local governments to take property, often at an unreasonable price, in order to erect shopping malls, amusement parks, yacht clubs, and more to increase local tax revenue. This article points out that in the Sunset Hills suburb of St. Louis, residents are being forced from their homes by the government in an effort to create a $160 million complex featuring stores and offices. What about "just compensation?" According to the article, John Hogan, who owns a three-bedroom two-bath home in Sunset Hills, was offered $147,000 for his home. If you take a moment to go to Realtor.com and look at the prices of homes, many three-bedroom two-bath homes in the Sunset Hills area sell for upwards of $500,000. I'd hardly say that's "just compensation."

This is simply one example of many listed in the article cited above. I urge everyone to read the whole thing and see just how far these abuses have reached. Alabama (my own state), Texas, and Delaware have already rushed to amend their state constitutions to ensure that private property cannot be taken by government for other private use. This is a very serious issue and if left unchecked could endanger every American's right to hold property. Do you want some corrupt local mayor receiving a kickback from a group of corporations to "condemn" your property, take that property at the condemned price, and sell it for private development? Well, if you're a homeowner then it's a reality you may very well soon face. I urge you to contact your local legislators, governors, and U.S. representatives and senators and urge them to pass legislature which would prevent this gross misuse of eminent domain.

Posted by everyman at October 24, 2005 06:59 AM | TrackBack

I want to know at what point government's purpose became to expand and earn money. I think that's one of the biggest problems that came out of politics and the 90s -- the idea that government should be run like a business.

Businesses exist to make money. Government should not -- but it does. That's how success in government is measured these days -- how much money they spent. So the next logical step is exactly what's happening here -- absolutely maximizing income (and expenditures) for government, no matter the cost.

Come and get my land, you money-grubbing bottom feeders, if you can!

Posted by: Ogre at October 25, 2005 10:30 AM

You're absolutely right, Ogre. It's become sickening actually. In my opinion, it's simply evidence of the fact that the world of politics is essentially corrupt. There is no question in my mind that these politicians who are condemning these people's property received campaign contributions or even worse, illegal kickbacks. Kelo just made it legal for them. That is why we need a strong constructionist on the court. You are absolutely right that our government should not be a business. We need a true return to the Constitutional Republic which our founding fathers intended.

Posted by: Everyman at October 26, 2005 01:14 AM
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