Op-eds on eminent domain


The Hampton Roads, Virginia, area is blessed to have a newspaper that opposes the abuse of government's power to condemn property. Eminent Domain Watch reprints an editorial in the Virginian-Pilot about the pending New London, Connecticut, case before the U. S. Supreme Court:

In 1981, the Michigan Supreme Court OKíd the condemnation of a Polish neighborhood in Detroit to make way for a new Cadillac plant.

Ever since, too many municipal officials have assumed they had carte blanche to take title to one personís land and then sell it to someone else pledging to extract more jobs and taxes from it.

Thatís why itís welcome news that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to intervene. It has taken up an outrageous case of eminent domain abuse on appeal from Connecticut. The case permits the court to curb a surge in condemnations motivated solely for economic development, not for the legitimate reasons of clearing slums and blight, or public necessities, such as roads, schools and hospitals.

And EDW reprints a Phyllis Schlafly op-ed on the same topic. Schlafly is head of the Eagle Forum, a conservative women's organization. Although best known for her advocacy for conservative positions on social issues, Schlafly has been outspoken in opposition to government violations of property rights and privacy rights. This column beautifully depicts the impact of eminent domain abuse:

The American Dream is to start a small business and develop it through years of hard work and investment. Millions of small businesses form the backbone of the United States' economy, annually creating between 60 percent and 80 percent of new jobs.

Location is the key to most businesses, and entrepreneurs typically build their reputation at a particular spot. But lately, many have been greeted by a surprise message from city hall: Their town is taking their property for the benefit of someone else.

A lifetime of effort is suddenly snuffed by the arbitrary decision of a few councilmen or unelected city planners. Business owner can claim only an appraised value for the hollow building and land that he actually owns. He receives zero compensation for the goodwill and revenue stream from customers he has nourished for years. A business leasing its property usually receives no compensation. Employees get nothing.

That's a pretty good description of what Peggy Jones of the Denver Grill faced, although in her case the property will be used for a publicly-owned facility, a use of eminent domain that is not in dispute.

There are forces in Tulsa that would love to misuse the government's power to condemn for private gain. I'm hopeful that the Supreme Court will make it clear that condemnation is only to be use for public use, not private benefit.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 13, 2004 12:55 AM.

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