Report Strips Away “False Sense of Security”

February 1, 2007

Report Strips Away “False Sense of Security” From Washington Eminent Domain Laws

When the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Kelo eminent domain decision, many people pointed to the Washington Constitution’s protections for private property as a model for the rest of the country.  The Washington Constitution clearly and explicitly prohibits the government from taking private property and giving it to another private entity.

Unfortunately, however, local Washington governments have, with the acquiescence of the Washington courts, undermined these protections.  In a new Policy Brief issued by the Washington Policy Center, Institute for Justice Washington Chapter Executive Director Bill Maurer lists how Washington law is rife with avenues for eminent domain abuse.  Maurer also examines recent cases where Washington property owners have been threatened with the unconstitutional exercise of the government’s eminent domain power.  The brief lays out how Washington law needs to change before residents of the Evergreen State can be secure in their homes and businesses.

As spotlighted in The Wall Street Journal, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and many other news outlets, the Policy Brief demonstrates that, even in states with strong constitutional protections for private property, these protections mean nothing unless the public is vigilant in insisting that the courts and local governments respect constitutional rights.  Maurer’s report gives advocates and lawmakers a road map they can use to reform Washington law to fit within our State’s constitutional boundaries.  The Policy Brief, and a shorter policy note, are available at and at IJ’s website,

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