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Governments Can Seize Private Land, High Court Rules

"Today nearly all real property is susceptible to condemnation on the court's theory," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in opposition to the ruling. "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party."

O'Connor said the opinion would result in a shift of property away from poor owners in favor of those with "disproportionate influence and power."

Justice Clarence Thomas went further in his dissent, arguing that the court's decision "regrettably" would exacerbate the harmful effects that urban renewal projects have had on African-American communities.

"Urban renewal projects have long been associated with the displacement of blacks," Thomas wrote, quoting from an article in the Yale Law and Policy Review, which noted that urban renewal was once known as "Negro removal."

The New London case springs from a longtime effort by that city to boost tax revenues from a waterfront neighborhood that was mostly residential. In 1998, pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer announced plans to build a research facility near the neighborhood, and the city quickly developed an ambitious plan to redevelop the entire area to complement the new facility.

Susette Kelo, who has lived in the area all her life, and eight other homeowners, refused to sell their properties, saying they wanted to stay in their homes. The city began condemnation proceedings, prompting the homeowners to sue.

At issue in their suit was how to interpret the Constitution's restrictions on the government's right to seize private lands. In general, government can take private land only for public uses such as railroads or utilities. But under certain extraordinary circumstances, private land can be seized simply for public purposes. The court, however, previously had explicitly approved of such seizures only in blighted areas.
"With today's decision, no one's property is safe," said Roger Pilon, the director of the Center for Constitutional Studies at the libertarian Cato institute. Cato filed a brief in the case asking that New London's proposed seizures be blocked. "Any time a government official thinks someone else can make better use of your property than you're doing, he can order it condemned and transferred."

Jared Leland, the legal adviser for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said churches could be especially vulnerable after Thursday's ruling.

"Because all houses of worship are tax-exempt, they will continue to be attractive targets for seizure by revenue-hungry local governments," Leland said. "We've already seen attempts to take them in favor of a Costco in California and a condo development in New Jersey."

This decision was just so terrible. It proves that no goverment official INCLUDING A COURT should be able to make decisions and not be beholden to ANYONE and not have a means for elected representatives to quickly over-rule such stupid decisions! With a case like this the US Constitution was already clear! What sense would it make for an ammendment to clarify what was already clear? The justices that ruled for this simply made up their decision ignoring the real meaning of the words "public use" and the true and original intent of those words!

This is just so stupid! I'm just really ticked [Mad 2] [Mad 2] [Mad 2] !!!!

Yes low income urban areas will be affected THE MOST by this ruling. Given they have far less resources (money) to fight back and are the most desired areas for development!

[ 06-24-2005, 01:59 PM: Message edited by: darnell ]

Posts: 1673 | From: Suwanee, GA, USA | Registered: Oct 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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From what I've been reading, one way to prevent government from taking your property is to remain involved in what your local politicians are doing all the time. Basically when they cut a deal with a developer it takes years before they actually get to the point of taking land. Prior to that there is often much planning and scoping that goes on at meetings open to the public. So it is not like all the work goes on behind closed doors. If you can catch this coming years ahead in the planning phases and mobilize your community then you can shut the efforts DOWN before they even get off the ground! Just the people speaking out early on can let the legislators know you're not having it and you can give them the boot way before they get to taking any land. Also you can start legal fights to tie them up and kill the effort early on. But you have to be on top of things EARLY and get active and vocal at the hint of a plan that might involve taking private property away!

And don't worry about just your own land, do this for all land in your area, so your legislators know YOU ARE NOT HAVING IT!

Even if you do not own any land you probably are renting from someone. This is a matter where you would want to help protect your landlord's/(property owner's) property (until you get your own). Cause if your landlord's/(property owner's) property is taken, of course that means you get the boot! And if you're renting you won't get anything if the land is taken, unlike the land owner that at least will be paid for their land's value. So it would be in your best interests to help your landlord/(property owner) keep their property so you don't have to move.

[ 06-30-2005, 04:55 PM: Message edited by: darnell ]

Posts: 1673 | From: Suwanee, GA, USA | Registered: Oct 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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