The US Supreme Court will hear arguments on a case that matters to everyone who believes in property rights, and is opposed to the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one property owner to another private property owner for a different use. CNN Story.
Eminent Domain was meant to be a means to acquire land for obvious common benefit uses: roadways and bridges mainly. That use was meant to be employed sparingly and as a last resort in the event civil negotiations broke down to an impasse. In the best case scenario, the government makes a fair market offer and the property owner agrees to a deal.
But today, governements on all levels, especially municipalities, are using eminent domain as a tool beyond its original intention. Eminent Domain is now being used by cities for taking property away from the current owners and giving to to other private entities- usually developers- on the basis that the new use will create jobs and a bigger tax base, which are certainly public benefits and sufficient justification for getting around negotiation and agreement.
This is important because all of us live in some kind of housing. We care about our homes, especially if we are homeowners. Home ownership is the cornerstone of the middle class. These cities are showing us that homeowners are increasingly becoming a class to be oppressed and disregarded. It should cause great alarm. From CNN:
"A recent study by the property rights group Institute for Justice, which is representing the New London homeowners in court, found about 10,000 cases from 1998 to 2002 of local governments in 41 states using or threatening to use eminent domain to transfer home and properties from one private owner to another. Courts in at least six states have upheld the practice."
Neal Boortz has much to say on this, thank goodness, on his website and on his radio show. The Institute For Justice is a non-profit legal organization that takes eminent domain abuse cases, and is one of the litigants in today's case on behalf of the property owners.