The Lamp

Where truth can be shared.

Kelo Launches Flood of Government Land Grabs

Posted by thelamp on July 14, 2006

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ridiculous Kelo v. New London decision, which endorsed the government’s seizure of private property for private development, has so emboldened government bodies that nearly 6,000 properties nationwide have been threatened or taken as a result. That’s more than half the number taken in the previous five years.

Kelo was decided June 23, 2005. It granted the city of New London, Conn., the right to seize the homes of residents of a depressed neighborhood for the benefits of developers. It sparked a nationwide outcry, and rightly so. Many states and the federal government in the past year placed moratoriums or even outright bans on the use of eminent domain for similar purposes. Clearly, however, according to a study from the Institute of Justice, not all governmental bodies heard the backlash against the Supreme Court’s decision. In the past year, according to the institute, more than 5,400 property seizures have been threatened for economic development purposes, as well as more than 350 condemnation filings or authorizations.

There are legitimate uses for eminent domain. A single homeowner, for example, cannot be allowed to stand in the way of necessary public-works projects such as roads and bridges. However, using eminent domain to take away private property for another’s private gain is simply unconscionable. It makes government a Robin Hood in reverse – taking from the poor and giving to the rich.

Fortunately, the federal government is taking steps not to be among the governmental bodies bent on destroying private-property rights. President Bush last week signed an executive order directing the Attorney General to assure that eminent domain proceedings by the federal government are for legitimate public purposes only, and not for “advancing the economic interest of private agencies to be given ownership or use of the property taken.” This is the approach the Supreme Court should have taken last year in deciding the Kelo case.

CMC condemns the use of eminent domain to choose economic winners and losers, and urges homeowners faced with seizure of their property for economic purposes to use all legal means at their disposal to oppose such actions.


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