The Supreme Court's ruling of last year in the case of Kelo v. City of New London is proving to indeed be a 'Decision too far.' Jonathan Last, writing in the Weekly Standard, reviews the impact that decision has had in engendering legislation and court decisions limiting the scope of eminent domain. For example:
It's worth revisiting the oral argument in City of Norwood v. Joseph P. Horney et al, which took place before Ohio's high court on January 11. One exchange in particular captures the passions stirred by the controversy over eminent domain.
Attorney Timothy Burke, arguing for the city, explained that the neighborhood could be taken and handed over to the developer because it was deteriorating owing to a "diversity of ownership"——that is, lots of people owned their own homes. Asked by one of the justices why the city government alone should be allowed to control property ownership, Burke replied, "These are the folks who live there. They've lived there all their lives, they've walked those neighborhoods, they've seen how it has changed. They've made a decision." Another justice interjected, "Counselor, couldn't the same argument be made for the homeowners?"
The packed courtroom erupted in laughter. And then applause. After the arguments were concluded, one of the justices could be heard over an open mike asking his colleagues, "Is this as big a crowd as we've ever had?"
The Court unanimously blocked the city's efforts to seize the properties.
Noteworthy is that
'Since Kelo, 25 states have enacted legislation attempting to reform the use of eminent domain, some with more success than others.'
'Six states——including California and New Jersey, where eminent domain abuse is rampant——have reform legislation pending. But in most of these states, the odds of reforms being enacted are relatively poor.'
Considering that only a little over a year has passed since Kelo, these results indicate a remarkable degree of impact in a rather short period of time. Get the citizenry's dander up and things get done in a hurry. Is this a stealth issue for the 2006 mid—term elections? State if not Federal?
We could use a bit of this enthusiasm by the electorate when it comes to reforming the earmarking practices of our esteemed legislators. Ed Morrisey has some thoughts and information on this effort .
Dennis Sevakis 08 15 06