2007 Eminent Domain Report Card: Some States Still Don’t Make the Grade

Matt Powers
Matt Powers · June 6, 2007

Arlington, Va.—If your home is important to you—and whose home isn’t—you should read a report card released today that grades eminent domain reform legislation in all 50 states in the past two years.

The report was released by the Castle Coalition, a grassroots project of the Institute for Justice, which argued the Kelo eminent domain case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Castle Coalition examined and graded eminent domain laws for each of the 50 states over the past two years—since the Kelo decision allowing eminent domain for private gain.

“This report finds that your right to own your home free from the specter of eminent domain abuse depends on which state you live in,” said Steven Anderson, director of the Castle Coalition. “States in the Northeast as well as California remain some of the biggest abusers of eminent domain and legislators in those states have so far refused to pass meaningful eminent domain reform despite the public’s overwhelming desire to be protected from eminent domain for private gain.” The report is available at: www.CastleCoalition.org/publications/report_card.

Among the states that passed the strongest reforms protecting property owners are Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota, each of which received an A or A- grade. States that received F’s were: Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma and Rhode Island.

“In only two years since Kelo, 41 states have reformed their laws to offer greater protection to small property owners,” said Jenifer Zeigler, legislative affairs attorney with the Castle Coalition. “But much more work remains if homeowners, small business owners, churches and farmers are to be safe from the unholy alliance of tax-hungry governments and land-hungry developers.”

The report seeks to step back and evaluate the legislative work that has been done and is left to do. It finds, “Some states have passed model reforms that can serve as an example for others. Some states enacted nominal reform—possibly because of haste, oversight or compromise—and need to know what is left to fix. And finally, there are those states that have failed to act altogether, leaving home, farm and business owners threatened by Kelo-type takings and beyond.”

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