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House of Reps v. Eminent Domain

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House of Reps v. Eminent Domain

Postby WharfRat » Fri Nov 04, 2005 2:54 pm

I remember there was a thread on SCOTUS' decision a while back. Nice to see the Feds doing what seems to be the right thing for a change.

House counters court decision on eminent domain

WASHINGTON (AP) — Conservative defenders of private property and liberal protectors of the poor joined in an overwhelming House vote to prevent local and state governments from seizing homes and businesses for use in economic development projects.
The House legislation, passed 376-38, was in response to a widely criticized 5-4 ruling by the Supreme Court last June that allowed eminent domain authority to be used to obtain land for tax revenue-generating commercial purposes.

That decision, said the House's third-ranked Republican, Deborah Pryce of Ohio, "dealt a blow to the rights of property owners across the country."

The bill would withhold for two years all federal economic development funds from states and localities that use economic development as a rationale for property seizures. It also would bar the federal government from using eminent domain powers for economic development.

It now goes to the Senate, where Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has introduced similar legislation.

The ruling in Kelo v. City of New London allowed the Connecticut city to exercise state eminent domain law to require several homeowners to cede their property for commercial use.

Conservatives were in the forefront in arguing that this was a dangerous interpretation of the "takings clause" in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution that allows the government to seize property for public use, with just compensation.

"Governments should not be able to bulldoze a person's home or business to benefit other individuals," said Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-Texas.

Liberals warned that it could make it easier to tear down poor neighborhoods. "We don't need you on this one," Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said to those arguing that eminent domain can lead to beneficial urban renewal projects. "We need you to respect the right of those minorities and those poor people to hold on to what is their own."

Opponents of the legislation argued that its exclusion of economic development was too broad and that the federal government should not be interceding in what should be a local issue. "We should not change federal law every time members of Congress disagree with the judgment of a locality when it uses eminent domain for the purpose of economic development," said Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va.

About half the states are also considering changes in their laws to prevent takings for private use.

The Bush administration, backing the House bill, said in a statement that "private property rights are the bedrock of the nation's economy and enjoy constitutionally protected status. They should also receive an appropriate level of protection by the federal government."

The House, by a voice vote, approved a proposal by Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., to bar states or localities in pursuit of more tax money from exercising eminent domain over non-profit or tax-exempt religious organizations. Churches, he said, "should not have to fear because God does not pay enough in taxes."

Eminent domain, the right of government to take property for public use, is typically used for projects that benefit an entire community, such as highways, airports or schools.

Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the majority opinion in Kelo, said in an August speech that while he had concerns about the results, the ruling was legally correct because the high court has "always allowed local policymakers wide latitude in determining how best to achieve legitimate public goals."

Several lawmakers who opposed the House bill said eminent domain has long been used by local governments for economic development projects such as the Inner Harbor in Baltimore and the cleaning up of Times Square in New York. The District of Columbia is expected to use eminent domain to secure land for a new baseball stadium for the Washington Nationals.
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Postby RugbyD » Fri Nov 04, 2005 2:58 pm

yeah that thread got deleted, rather than locked, which i was not happy about. so now i can't copy and paste all of my old commets, but hooray anyways!
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Postby StlSluggers » Fri Nov 04, 2005 3:14 pm

I worry that this bill would discourage, or even prevent, blight removal if people were living there.
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Postby Cornbread Maxwell » Fri Nov 04, 2005 3:15 pm

woo hoo!

Nice to see that this didnt become a silly partisan topic. I guess when its that obvious, rational people can agree.
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Postby WharfRat » Fri Nov 04, 2005 4:02 pm

StlSluggers wrote:I worry that this bill would discourage, or even prevent, blight removal if people were living there.


Good point...but even so, forced removal of someone isn't a good practice to consider outside of absolute necessity. If you take bulldozing off the table, it just means you have to work differently and rebuild communities instead of starting over, which is good.
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Postby StlSluggers » Fri Nov 04, 2005 4:15 pm

WharfRat wrote:
StlSluggers wrote:I worry that this bill would discourage, or even prevent, blight removal if people were living there.


Good point...but even so, forced removal of someone isn't a good practice to consider outside of absolute necessity. If you take bulldozing off the table, it just means you have to work differently and rebuild communities instead of starting over, which is good.

I agree. If we have to err, I think it should be on the side of caution. What I do like about this bill is that it will force commerce to deal with the people instead of the government if they want to get something done. And let's face it, both people and policitians can be bought, but I daresay that the price of the latter is generally far below that of the former.

I just don't want to hog-tie a community that legitimately needs to redefine its city by getting rid of some slums that do nothing but breed crime and suck tax dollars.
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Postby JRM4833 » Fri Nov 04, 2005 4:30 pm

I remember when the Senate had this bill a couple months ago (assuming it's the same). Good to see. I don't disagree as much as others with the Court's opinion, but I do disagree with the policy completely.
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Postby ironman » Fri Nov 04, 2005 4:48 pm

I would think that a city should still have grounds for demolishing based on blight. The court's ruling was disconcerting from the sense that a city or suburb that is completely landlocked and built-out would've had the ability to level a whole neighborhood for the purposes of building a shopping center with the homeowners having little say in the matter.
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Postby RugbyD » Fri Nov 04, 2005 5:00 pm

StlSluggers wrote:I just don't want to hog-tie a community that legitimately needs to redefine its city by getting rid of some slums that do nothing but breed crime and suck tax dollars.

In some cases it is just punishment that the people who have not left a dump city and have instead facilitated it demise by raIsing taxes, voting for corrupt pols, etc etc should wallow in their own filth. GOT THAT, DETROIT?!?!?!?!?!
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Postby Cornbread Maxwell » Fri Nov 04, 2005 5:04 pm

RugbyD wrote:
StlSluggers wrote:I just don't want to hog-tie a community that legitimately needs to redefine its city by getting rid of some slums that do nothing but breed crime and suck tax dollars.

In some cases it is just punishment that the people who have not left a dump city and have instead facilitated it demise by raIsing taxes, voting for corrupt pols, etc etc should wallow in their own filth. GOT THAT, DETROIT?!?!?!?!?!


What!?!?

A corrupt Mayor in Detroit!?!?

No way... Next you'll say that the Mayor can cover up the death of a prostitute after a sex party at his mansion and still have strong support in his run for reelection.
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