Thursday, August 04, 2005

Alabama leads the charge against eminent domain abuse

The first state-wide legislation aimed at fixing the gaping hole torn in the Constitutional protections of property rights has passed in Alabama.

::::::::Republican Gov. Bob Riley signed a bill that was passed unanimously by a special session of the Alabama Legislature, which would prohibit governments from using their eminent-domain authority to take privately owned properties for the purpose of turning them over to retail, industrial, office or residential developers.

Calling the high court's June 23 ruling "misguided" and a "threat to all property owners," Mr. Riley said, "A property rights revolt is sweeping the nation, and Alabama is leading it."

The backlash against the judicial ruling has not received much attention in the national press, although legislative leaders in more than two dozen states have proposed statutes and/or state constitutional amendments to restrict local governments' eminent-domain powers.

Besides Alabama, legislation to ban or restrict the use of eminent domain for private development has been introduced in 16 states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas.

Legislators have announced plans to introduce eminent-domain bills in seven more states: Alaska, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Dakota, South Carolina and Wisconsin, and lawmakers in Colorado, Georgia and Virginia plan to act on previously introduced bills.

Excellent work, Alabama. Now we just need the rest of the Union to do what the Justices writing for the Kelo majority couldn't understand English well enough to accomplish and re-assert the property rights protections the Founders thought they had made completely plain. I'm looking forward to announcing the passage of similar legislation here in Virginia.