Thursday, June 30, 2005

And so it begins: Kelo decision starts the stampede

The Supreme Court decision in Kelo has been widely denounced outside of the circle of developers and their city/county council friends. One of the things said in the immediate aftermath was that this would set off a land rush the likes of which haven't been seen since the Oklahoma Territory was opened. Supporters of the ruling basically dismissed the idea saying that few towns would pursue such a course for fear of angering their constituents. Apparently, there's plenty of those towns who have no such fear. Instapundit has a link this morning to Virgina Postrel who talks about the fallout from Kelo. (Brief aside, she also has a suggestion for stockholders and consumers to get involved with the businesses they invest in and do business with to get them to pledge not to make eminent domain requests. If you own stock, there are rules designating how you can make a shareholder proposal for the next shareholders' meeting. Check with your companies' investor relations group for info and consider it.) Virginia links from her site to the Institute for Justice. Those folks are tracking the number of Kelo-related activities and, contrary to the claims, there's been a rash of actions in just the few days since the ruling.

::::::::The following examples from newspapers across the country show that the threat of condemnation to homes, small business, churches and other property from government-forced private development projects is being realized. These incidents are the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of properties nationwide are facing the threat of eminent domain for private development, and many more projects are in the planning stages. In its first-ever nationwide study Public Power, Private Gain, the Institute for Justice documented more than 10,000 instances of threatened or actual condemnation for private development nationwide from 1998 through 2002. The Institute for Justice will issue an updated report later this year.::::::::

Follow the link to see briefs of the actions cities are taking now that they've been cleared to take property to improve their tax base. There are links to the news reports for each and every one. Every one listed is a matter of a local government condemning property for the sole reason that it's not generating the tax revenue that they'd like to see. The progression here is so obvious to see that it literally beggars the imagination that the Supreme Court Justices who voted in favor of the ruling can't see this. It's not an overstatement to say that they have rendered private property rights null and void in this country if a weathier citizen can apply for and have the local government take your home and give it to him.

I'll be keeping an eye on this.