5 comments

  1. I think we may be overreacting a wee bit to the Kelo decision. I’m not convinced that abuse of this power is so widespread that legislation is necessary. However, during an election year, strengthening the property rights of individuals will really resonate with voters.

  2. Tater Tate says:

    You need to take a look at what has happened in Stockbridge. This is very much an issue in Georgia. My hat is off to Senator Jeff Chapman, a good south Georgia guy, who tried to get a bill passed last session. Though others will now steal this idea and try to take the credit, he had the vision to get this ball rolling. Georgia must take action on this issue.

  3. pathfinder says:

    I always hate it when folks just cut and paste rather use their own words but the opening paragraphs to Justice O’Connor’s dissent in the Kelo decision last summer sum up the need for restrictions on the power of emminent domain. She opened her dissent as follows:

    “Over two centuries ago, just after the Bill of Rights was ratified, Justice Chase wrote:

    ‘An ACT of the Legislature (for I cannot call it a law) contrary to the great first principles of the social compact, cannot be considered a rightful exercise of legislative authority . . . . A few instances will suffice to explain what I mean . . . . [A] law that takes property from A. and gives it to B: It is against all reason and justice, for a people to entrust a Legislature with SUCH powers; and, therefore, it cannot be presumed that they have done it.’ Calder v. Bull, 3 U.S. 386, [**461] 3 Dallas 386, 1 L. Ed. 648 (1798) (emphasis deleted).

    Today the Court abandons this long-held, basic limitation on government power. Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded — i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public — in the process. To reason, as the Court does, that the incidental [***46] public benefits resulting from the subsequent ordinary use of private property render economic development takings “for public use” is to wash out any distinction between private and public use of property — and thereby effectively to delete the words “for public use” from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Accordingly I respectfully dissent.”

    Amen, Sandra.

    As Tater Tate points out, what is happening in Stockbridge is evidence that the abuse in New London can indeed happen here as well. The legislature — especially a Republican legislature — must act to cure this wrong.

  4. Mayors and city council members will be held politically accountable for eminent domain abuse – they are well aware of this, so the power to take property in the name of economic development will be used very sparingly. I just feel that this power is necessary to save communities that would otherwise dry up and die.

  5. pathfinder says:

    There is a reason why the phrase is “property rights” and not “property privileges.” A privilege under our system can be granted or removed according to the will of the majority. A right is inviolate. We shouldn’t have to depend on the wisdom of local elected officials or the electoral whims of the community to protect our fundamental property rights.

    The protection against a state taking absent “public use” and just compensation is a right granted under the Constitution. Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court has opted to water that protection. We should rightly demand that our legislature restore those rights.

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