Skip to comments.Real Angry Over Real Estate (Eminent domain reaction 'giant tsunami', developers hurry)
Posted on 10/05/2005 8:02:47 PM PDT by Libloather
Real Angry Over Real Estate
Why a recent Supreme Court ruling has lots of homeowners hot under the collar
By Silla Brush
Stan Dunn and his wife, Barbara, had just sold their home in California and were about to retire to the Buffalo suburb of Cheektowaga this spring when they heard the rumblings: A developer might tear down their new home--and more than 300 other nearby houses--in order to build a new complex of apartments, townhouses, and businesses to eliminate blight and boost the economy. And while town officials are excited at the prospect, the Dunns say they have no intention of selling.
Ever since the Supreme Court ruled in June that a Connecticut town could use "eminent domain" powers to take private property for a pharmaceutical plant, the Dunns and homeowners across the country have been girding for battle. Says Dunn: "The whole issue of taking property from one person to give to another to make a profit is incorrect."
The court indicated that it will not reconsider its ruling in the Connecticut case, Kelo v. New London. A week after the ruling, the House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution opposing the court's decision. Lawmakers in some two dozen states followed with proposals to restrict the power of eminent domain, and the governors of Alabama and Delaware have already signed such bills.
Tsunami. Real-estate developers are speeding up projects or setting them aside pending any changes in the laws, while homeowners have set up groups like the Dunns' "Citizens for Property Rights." Congress, meanwhile, is debating seven bills of its own. "This is an issue that resonates with the American people . . . and it's not just people on the right or the left or rich and poor," says Sen. John Cornyn, the Texas Republican who has a bill that would limit the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes. "It has to do with our suspicion and skepticism of government power being able to take private property."
The issue certainly is hot. Some activists have launched campaigns to seize the homes of Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and David Souter. The Senate Judiciary Committee peppered then Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts with questions on Kelo. The decision, Roberts said, "leaves the ball in the court of the legislature" to decide when eminent domain can be used.
The court's 5-to-4 decision said the government's constitutional power to seize property for "public use" in return for just compensation may extend to private development projects if the government sees a public benefit to them. "The specter of condemnation hangs over all property," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in dissent, shortly before announcing her decision to step down from the bench: "Nothing is to prevent the state replacing any . . . home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."
Eminent domain has been invoked since the 1950s to seize areas for urban renewal projects. But Thomas Merrill, a Columbia University law professor who filed a brief with the Supreme Court supporting New London's use of eminent domain, says reaction earlier wasn't nearly as intense as it is now. "This is like a giant tsunami," he says, "compared to what we've had in the past."
Lawyers for Susette Kelo say that's because the ruling represents a philosophical leap from the traditional projects associated with "public use," such as highways or schools. Dana Berliner, a lawyer at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian group representing Kelo, says local governments have expanded their use of eminent domain in recent years to make way for big-box retailers and new housing complexes to boost tax revenue and create jobs. Between 1998 and 2003, Berliner says, there were some 10,000 examples of threatened or actual use of eminent domain for what she claims is essentially private commercial development. Jeff Finkle, head of the International Economic Development Council, counters that eminent domain is sometimes essential as a last resort. "If you don't have [the] ability to block holdouts, people that would have the ability to prevent cities from acquiring land and developing new types of opportunities, you're going to leave those urban distressed places exactly [as] they were," he says, citing New York City's redevelopment of Times Square as an "eminent domain" success story.
In Norwood, Ohio, Carl and Joy Gamble are the last of 65 homeowners holding on to their property, which the city said was deteriorating and could be seized through eminent domain. They have spent two years fighting their case in court and are awaiting a decision from the Ohio Supreme Court on their appeal of an earlier court ruling that they had to sell for $280,000. "We're not there for the money," says Carl. "We bought [the house], we want it, and we want to keep it."
Florida city considers eminent domain (Riviera Beach making the latest heist)
The Washington Times
October 3, 2005
By Joyce Howard Price
Florida's Riviera Beach is a poor, predominantly black, coastal community that intends to revitalize its economy by using eminent domain, if necessary, to displace about 6,000 local residents and build a billion-dollar waterfront yachting and housing complex. "This is a community that's in dire need of jobs, which has a median income of less than $19,000 a year," said Riviera Beach Mayor Michael Brown.
We should make a new law that requires governments that condemn land in order to give the land to private developers to pay two to four times the market value of the land to the owner.
The final decision would be subject to a referendum, of course.
(In other words, the development had better be worth the expense, and the tax payers would have to agree.)
Sounds like Mayor Brown is due for replacement.
There are already "uses" of the precedent set by the LIBERAL ACTIVISTS who basically trashed the fifth amendment with the decision in Conn. I hope a huge swell of anger against the liberals who think they can legislate from the bench, their own interpretation of what the Constitution says.
As one of Roberts and Meirs first moves, to rescend the decision which clearly VIOLATES CONSTITUTIONAL LAW. Then to be followed by McCain-Feingold into the trash can, which clearly violated the first amendment.
Your suggestion sounds like a good remedy. Any law passed to restore property rights should also carry a provision that specifically forbids Supreme Court review.
and all this Eminent Domain bullshit make the 2nd Amendment more and more significant every day.
"But Thomas Merrill, a Columbia University law professor who filed a brief with the Supreme Court supporting New London's use of eminent domain, says reaction earlier wasn't nearly as intense as it is now. "This is like a giant tsunami," he says, "compared to what we've had in the past.""
No surprise. The Supreme Court went out of its way to tell the States and localities that merely the idea tax revenue might be increased was a basis for emninent domain. The minimal protection of that "blight" consideration is gone.
Thanks for the ping!
As I said after the Kelo ruling, if a city must *confiscate* the property of people in order to survive as an entity, the city should cease to exist. Period.
Cities, and all levels of government, are not owed existance by we citizens. They are here to serve us, and minimally at that.
Confiscation of private property, for the purpose of revenue enhancement, is plainly unconstitutional, and is just simply evil. And I use the word evil in a literal sense.
This won't stop until it becomes both dangerous and lethal for the property-grabbers. That's the bottom line.
Anyone who wishes to seize my property is welcome to die trying.
Substitute 'the developer, city council and mayor' for 'city' and you've got it dead bang right.
As much as O'Connor infuriates me, her dissent on Kelo was actually quite well-said.
Roberts has already put the onus on legislators to right the court's wrong. 'Course that wasn't the way he put it.
Great thread, thanks. I heard Laura Ingraham interview Riviera Beach Mayor Michael Brown this morning. The guy is scary...
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Taxpayers will have to subsidize the mistake when the first hurricane hits. How much are insurance rates going up next year? How long do we play this fantasy game? The me generation strikes again.