Tom Hurst writes on liberty, free markets, private property rights, government and the Constitution from Nevada, USA
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ARCHIVE ARTICLE

COMMON SENSE Volume XII: Eminent Domain

"We're Mad As Hell, And We're Not Going To Take It Anymore!"

By Rebecca Iocca & Tom Hurst, 2005

In America, "a man's home is his castle." Unfortunately, the Republican and Democrat appointed Supreme Court judges don't see it that way. In the recent Kelo vs. New London, CT decision they have eliminated that time honored value by re-interpreting the government's eminent domain power so that politicians can take your property for any reason and give it to anyone they choose if even a vague "public benefit" will result. For example, your family home can be taken and given to someone who will build a fancier home which would generate more property tax, your business can be taken and given to a corporation that might hire more employees, and in rural areas environmentalists can take your land for a wildlife preserve. In each of these cases you would have no legal recourse. Is this a power the government should have?

In colonial America, people called eminent domain the "Despotic Power" because kings routinely invoked it to confiscate private property. To limit the power of the state over our property, the Founding Fathers gave us the 5th Amendment: "...nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation." Further, Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution specifies what legitimate public use is: "...Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-yards and other needful Buildings," that is, government facilities necessary to defend our Constitutional rights. How could these simple words be translated to allow taking your property for literally any purpose as the Supreme Court now has done?

America's first great eminent domain abuses were Federal "urban renewal" takings, started in the 1950's, wherein entire neighborhoods were uprooted to make way for public housing. So many poor and ethnic people were forcibly removed from their property - estimates are 3.6 million - that "urban renewal" came to be called "negro removal". You can be sure that when laws are created that allow people to be abused by government, it will not be the rich and powerful who are abused.

It should be clear that our arrogant Supreme Court Judges and Republican and Democrat legislators have totally abandoned any notion of private property rights. And even though some may publically condemn eminent domain, the facts are that they only pass toothless legislation that does little or nothing to limit it. This is by design, of course, because they want governments to retain their right to take your property so they can hand out favors - your land - to influential corporations and to their friends. This is treasonous because the Supreme Court, Congress and the President are sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, not find ways around it. Fortunately, the Supremes themselves have in the Kelo ruling given us the antidote to their outrageous behavior: "Nothing in our opinion precludes any state from placing further restrictions on its exercise of the takings power." In other words, States can pass laws that will eliminate the confiscation of private property by eminent domain. Republicans and Democrats have demonstrated that they do not respect the sanctity of your private property, so you must elect us to do this. We would work to totally abolish eminent domain takings because we know that without private property we cannot have freedom and security - if eminent domain exists at all, it will always be abused. Remember, evil prospers when good people do nothing. Take action by supporting independent candidates who are pro-Liberty!

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Tom Hurst - Defender of liberty, free markets, private property rights, and the Constitution