To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Eminent Domain Runs Amok in New Jersey

New Jersey has become the poster state for eminent domain abuse. Local governments there, especially near the shore, are seeking to raze homes in order to clear the way for developments that will generate more tax revenue.
"I object to anybody's house being taken by eminent domain to build homes to house wealthier people. I think that's just wrong," said Nordahl, one of about 30 Long Branch residents who are fighting city efforts to take their property by eminent domain.
And in the nation:
More than 10,000 properties nationwide were taken or threatened by eminent domain between 1998 and 2002, according to the Institute for Justice, a Washington-based libertarian public interest law firm. Currently, eminent domain lawsuits are pending in at least a dozen states, including Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Connecticut, New York and Florida.

It's not about building roads or schools anymore, they say, but about luring retail giants like Costco, Crate & Barrel and Target. Target, in fact, was the focus of a Kansas State Supreme Court ruling last year that upheld the taking of private property for the construction of a distribution center for that retailer.

"Using eminent domain to bring in tax dollars-that is the most dangerous expansion of eminent domain yet realized," said Institute for Justice attorney Scott Bullock, who is handling eminent domain lawsuits in Ohio and Connecticut.

"If the creation of tax revenue is a justification for eminent domain, then any home or smaller business could be taken," Bullock said.
The only positive in this sad chapter is that my mother, who is a die-hard unionist liberal, is rooting for the Long Branch homeowners and is finally starting to understand my politics.

The IJ web site is here.

And the eminent domain controversy echoes my view that taxes are the root of almost all social divisions.