Despite mass public outcry following the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Kelo v. City of New London, eminent domain for private gain continues to threaten homeowners and small businesses.
While 43 states reformed their laws to prevent Kelo-style takings after the Court’s decision in 2005, private developers and tax revenue-hungry politicians have found other ways to effect government transfers of private property from rightful owners to private corporations.
One oft-abused alternative to pure takings for so-called “economic development” is pretextual blight designation. Under the guise of public health and safety, municipal development authorities declare perfectly livable properties blighted, thus opening the door for use of eminent domain for private economic development.
Properties may be considered blighted because of such things as unpaved driveways, faulty lot layout, or simply because they are no longer consistent with sound growth of the community.
The Institute for Justice seeks to close this loophole in many eminent domain laws. IJ’s model eminent domain legislation ends the use of blight determinations as a pretext for takings for economic redevelopment by establishing meaningful criteria for blighted properties.
Moreover, IJ’s model eminent domain legislation requires actual “public use”—rather than a broader “public purpose”—for any exercise of eminent domain.
This model legislation is a huge step forward in securing the property rights of all Americans against private sector developers and their captured bureaucrats.