Category: Eminent Domain


Tim Carney: Eminent Domain Often Leaves Broken Communities Behind

 

 

 

 

 

 

” Weeds and rubble cover 90 acres along Long Island Sound. A room with cinder-block walls sits locked in an empty in Brooklyn basement. And a gleaming industrial palace has failed to bring jobs to the banks of Ohio’s Mahoning River.

  These are monuments to failed central planning. Eminent domain, state and local subsides, and federal-corporate partnerships have yielded these lifeless fruits, failing to deliver the rebirth, community benefits and jobs they promise — but succeeding in delivering profits to the companies that lobby for them.

  The economic philosophy at work here isn’t capitalism or socialism. It’s corporatism: the belief that government and business should work together. You could describe corporatism as the view that profits provided by the market aren’t sufficient motivation for business, so government must put some icing on top. From another perspective, corporatism is government’s attempt to harness the profit motive for the goals of policymakers: let industry row the ship while politicians steer.

  Often, the corporatist ship founders on the rocks of false promises.

  Last decade, the New London Development Corporation — a quasi governmental body — crafted a plan for revitalizing the small Connecticut town. This plan involved a new Pfizer plant. The NLDC and local politicians sold the land to Pfizer for $10, gave the company tax breaks and pledged $26 million to clean up contamination and a local junkyard.”

 

 

 Read Mr Carney’s entire piece and see our post on the ninth anniversary of the Kelo decision for more on the evils of the State’s eminent domain abuse in the service of corporate cronyism . For those who are interested in further reading on the subject of State sponsored theft of private property you can read our posts here , here , here and here

 

   Parts two and three of the Independence Institute’s video above are available here .

 

 

 

 

 

 

” Don’t Think It Can’t Happen To You .”

 

 

Published on Feb 26, 2014

” Don’t think it can’t happen to you. The state of eminent domain in America today is that if government wants your property, it can simply take it.

 http://www.LibertyPen.com “

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colorado Couple May Lose Home In ‘Open Space’ Eminent Domain Seizure

 

 

 

” Andy and Ceil Barrie fell in love with and bought a three-bedroom home on a beautiful ten-acre property within the White River National Forest in Colorado, a sprawling reserve of 2.1 million acres. Only three years after purchasing the property and the house within it, county government officials, annoyed by the couple’s use of an ATV to drive to their property, are trying to to take the Barries’ home away.

  The county claims that it is seizing the property through eminent domain in order to preserve open space, according to an Associate Press report. The Barries say they have no plans to develop the land at all, and even let hikers travel through their property. Open space “is all it’s ever been,” Andy Barrie said.

  The Barries use an ATV to reach their home via a 1.2-mile mining road through the forest. After the U.S. Forest Service told the couple that they could not use a motorized vehicle to get to their property, the Barries claimed a legal right to use the road and are preparing to challenge the Forest Service in court.”

 

National Review has more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sochi Residents Thrown Out Of Homes For 2014 Winter Olympics

 

 

 

 

” Russian President Vladimir Putin has another problem on his hands with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Word is spreading that many people lost their homes for the games and received next to nothing in compensation.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

” Tatyana Samokhval comforted her mother Valentina Khlystova (pictured above) as the Russian government demolished the family home. At first her husband Sergei and his son-in-law Maxim (Tatyana’s husband) tried to block the bulldozers. They eventually had to admit defeat and watch in pain as it was taken down.

  Nina Toromonyan was forced to give up her home under Law 301, which allowed the government to take over any land and buildings, even private, for the Winter Olympics. The police showed up on October 23 and took everyone out by force if they resisted. “

 

Gee , Soviet style forced resettlement ? Well it’s not like it can happen here . Oh , sorry , never mind .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Years After Kelo, The Seized Land Is Empty

 

 

 

” Nine years after the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision gutted the right of American property owners to resist eminent-domain seizures, the neighborhood at the center of the case remains a wasteland.”

 

 

 

 

    Meet American hero Suzette Kelo , a woman who , though she ultimately lost her case and her home , fought the good fight for all Americans and our property rights . This is her story .

 

 

   The Supreme Court ruling 5-4 in favor of the New London Development Corp was intended to provide land , waterfront mind you , for Pfizer pharmaceuticals to build new offices with the hopes of bringing many new jobs to the City of New London . It didn’t work out that way as Pfizer backed out and a few years later actually left New London altogether .

 

” Fort Trumbull in New London, Conn., was bulldozed to fulfill the vision of politicians and developers eager to create a New Urbanist mixed-use “hub” for upscale living in the depressed town near the mouth of Long Island Sound.”

   

 

 

” But after nearly a decade, the land is nothing but vacant urban prairie. After homeowners were forced off their property for the sake of “economic development,” the city’s original development deal fell apart, and the urban-renewal corporation that ordered the destruction has not found a developer to use the land.”

 

 

 

 

   The turning of the corner in the battle for individual property rights , this ruling allowed the State to force private landholders to sell for the benefit of other , better connected , private citizens . A truly disgraceful ruling that the Supreme Court should be ashamed of .

 

 

” Traditionally, these transfers of property, or eminent domain, had only allowed governments to acquire private lands in order to build a public structure like a school or highway. The Constitution permits seizures for such instances of “public use,” but the Supreme Court decision expanded that power to allow governments to acquire people’s land with “just compensation” for a “public purpose,” which in Kelo meant the government’s belief that a different owner might bring in more tax revenue.”

 

 

The opinion of the Court was decided thusly :

 

 

Majority and concurring

” On June 23, 2005, the Supreme Court, in a 5–4 decision, ruled in favor of the City of New London. Justice Stevens wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Anthony KennedyDavid SouterRuth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. Justice Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion setting out a more detailed standard for judicial review of economic development takings than that found in Stevens’s majority opinion. In so doing, Justice Kennedy contributed to the Court’s trend of turning minimum scrutiny—the idea that government policy need only bear a rational relation to a legitimate government purpose—into a fact-based test.

  In Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff, 467 US 229 (1984), the Court had said that the government purpose under minimum scrutiny need only be “conceivable which, practically speaking, is no standard at all because, as demonstrated by countless science fiction writers, anything is conceivable.” In two 1996 cases the Court clarified that concept. InRomer v. Evans, 517 US 620, the Court said that the government purpose must be “independent and legitimate.” And in United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515, the Court said the government purpose “must be genuine, not hypothesized or invented post hoc in response to litigation.” Thus, the Court made it clear that, in the scrutiny regime established in West Coast Hotel v. Parrish, 300 US 379 (1937), government purpose is a question of fact for the trier of fact.

  Kennedy fleshed out this doctrine in his Kelo concurring opinion; he sets out a program of civil discovery in the context of a challenge to an assertion of government purpose. However, he does not explicitly limit these criteria to eminent domain, nor to minimum scrutiny, suggesting that they may be generalized to all health and welfare regulation in the scrutiny regime. Because Kennedy signed on to the Court’s majority opinion, his concurrence is not binding on lower courts. He wrote:

  A court confronted with a plausible accusation of impermissible favoritism to private parties should [conduct]… a careful and extensive inquiry into ‘whether, in fact, the development plan [chronology]

[1.] is of primary benefit to… the developer… and private businesses which may eventually locate in the plan area…

[2.] and in that regard, only of incidental benefit to the city…'”

Kennedy is also interested in facts of the chronology which show, with respect to government,

[3.] awareness of… depressed economic condition and evidence corroborating the validity of this concern…

[4.] the substantial commitment of public funds… before most of the private beneficiaries were know…

[5.] evidence that [government] reviewed a variety of development plan…

[6.] [government] chose a private developer from a group of applicants rather than picking out a particular transferee beforehand and…

[7.] other private beneficiaries of the project [were]… unknown [to government] because the… space proposed to be built [had] not yet been rented…

  Kelo v. City of New London did not establish entirely new law concerning eminent domain. Although the decision was controversial, it was not the first time “public use” had been interpreted by the Supreme Court as “public purpose”. In the majority opinion, Justice Stevens wrote the “Court long ago rejected any literal requirement that condemned property be put into use for the general public” (545 U.S. 469). Thus precedent played an important role in the 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court. The Fifth Amendment was interpreted the same way as in Midkiff (467 U.S. 229) and other earlier eminent domain cases. However in those earlier cases the court justified the use of eminent domain on the basis of elimination of social harms such as barriers to efficient exploitation of agricultural and mineral-bearing land, elimination of slums, or large-scale title misallocation. None of these factors were present in Kelo; it was a case in which the city merely wanted to increase its tax revenues, and attract a wealthier population in place of the lower middle class home owners in the redevelopment project area.”

 

 

The dissenting Justices had this to say :

 

” The principal dissent was issued on 25 June 2005 by Justice O’Connor, joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas. The dissenting opinion suggested that the use of this taking power in a reverse Robin Hood fashion— take from the poor, give to the rich— would become the norm, not the exception:

Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.

  O’Connor argued that the decision eliminates “any distinction between private and public use of property — and thereby effectively delete[s] the words ‘for public use’ from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.” 125 S.Ct. 2655, 2671.

  Thomas also issued a separate originalist dissent, in which he argued that the precedents the court’s decision relied upon were flawed. He accuses the majority of replacing the Fifth Amendment’s “Public Use” clause with a very different “public purpose” test:

This deferential shift in phraseology enables the Court to hold, against all common sense, that a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation, is for a ‘public use.’

  Thomas additionally observed:

Something has gone seriously awry with this Court’s interpretation of the Constitution. Though citizens are safe from the government in their homes, the homes themselves are not.545 U.S. 469, 518 (2005)

  Thomas also made use of the argument presented in the NAACP/AARP/SCLC/SJLS amicus brief on behalf of three low-income residents’ groups fighting redevelopment in New Jersey, noting:

Allowing the government to take property solely for public purposes is bad enough, but extending the concept of public purpose to encompass any economically beneficial goal guarantees that these losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities. Those communities are not only systematically less likely to put their lands to the highest and best social use, but are also the least politically powerful.”

 

 

    This video from 2007 offers a discussion of the on-going affects of the Kelo decision from Duke university and a panel of property law experts …

 

 

 

 

 

 

    For further reading on the travesty of justice that is the Kelo decision and the continuing abuse of eminent domain by the State and the courts check out the Institute for Justice , which represented Ms Kelo and Ms Dery , the Cato Institute , Civil Liberty , Cornell University Law , Harvard Law , &  The Bill Of Rights Institute . 

    Here is the transcript of oral arguments presented by Scott G Bullock Esq. on behalf of the plaintiffs and here is a history of recent  eminent domain abuse for commercial gain from the Law Review at UC Davis .

 

   The Founders recognized private property rights as equally important to the liberty of citizens as freedom of speech and the right to bear arms  , for without the legal assurance of the natural right to keep and benefit from the fruits of one’s own labors the citizenry become nothing more than serfs .

   With that in mind we will close this post with some words of wisdom from the Founders that demonstrate just how far from their ideals this nation has fallen …

 

 

John Adams had this to say :

” The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.”

 

James Madison on the legitimate role of government :

” Government is instituted to protect property of every sort. … This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.”

We’ll let Thomas Jefferson have the last word on the subject of private property and takings :

“Nothing is ours, which another may deprive us of.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luxury NY Village Plans To Seize WWII Vet’s Store

 

 

 

 

” The Fire Island resort of Saltaire wants to seize private property — using taxpayer money.

  World War II vet Frank Whitney is locked in a legal battle with officials who want to take his Saltaire Market grocery by eminent domain in order to build their own updated version.”

 

 

” And the upscale village may increase property taxes to do it, raising as much as $2.5 million to buy and rebuild the market, which was damaged during Hurricane Sandy.

  Whitney’s family says it wants to fix the store — the village’s only commercial property — and has the money to do so, but it accuses Saltaire officials of preventing them.”