You May Not KNow it But Your House May Be For Sale!

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Bonnie, Feb 22, 2005.

  1. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Senior Member

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    Stop chainsawing the Constitution

    By Timothy Sandefur
    Tuesday, February 22, 2005


    You may not know it, but your home is for sale.
    Across America, government and big business are teaming up to condemn people's homes and replace them with shopping centers and megastores such as Costco, Ikea and Home Depot. In fact, from just 1998 to 2003, there were 10,000 reported cases of cities and states condemning or threatening to condemn homes and businesses to make way for private companies to expand.

    Government's power to take property against the owner's will is called eminent domain; it is the subject of a case the U.S. Supreme Court will hear today. In Kelo v. New London, the court will consider whether the Constitution places any limits on eminent domain.

    The Fifth Amendment says that private property may be taken only for "public use," which in the past meant highways or government buildings. But in Kelo, a Connecticut town decided to "revitalize" the community by taking several properties and replacing them with a hotel, a health club and a marina to accompany a new research facility for the Pfizer pharmaceutical company.

    Health clubs and corporate research are private uses, not public uses. But the city argues that "revitalization" would increase tax revenue and "create jobs." And a public benefit, the city says, is all the Constitution requires.

    The problem with that argument is that most businesses benefit the public. If our homes can be taken away whenever bureaucrats decide that somebody else would use them more effectively, then our property rights will be rendered meaningless.

    Consider the infamous Poletown case. In the early 1980s, the General Motors Corp. persuaded Detroit -- which was reeling from recession -- to condemn a neighborhood called Poletown (due to the large number of Polish immigrants living there) and sell it cheap to GM to build an auto factory. The Michigan Supreme Court held that the condemnation was legal: If the government declared that a condemnation would benefit the public, the courts would not stand in the way.

    In a whirlwind of litigation that lasted only a few weeks, neighbors watched as their community was pulverized.

    The Poletown decision led to an epidemic of eminent domain abuse. In 1999, the city of Merriam, Kan., condemned a Toyota dealership to sell the land to a BMW dealer instead. That same year, Bremerton, Wash., condemned 22 homes to resell the land to private developers. In one notorious case, billionaire Donald Trump persuaded the government of Atlantic City, N.J., to condemn the home of an elderly widow so he could build a limousine parking lot.

    Unfortunately, the victims of eminent domain are most often the elderly, the poor and minorities. They lack the money and political power to persuade the government to respect their rights. But corporate lobbyists are very effective at persuading cities to give them someone else's land on the pretense that it will create jobs and improve the neighborhood -- especially when it will increase the city's tax base.

    Fortunately, things may be changing. Last year, the Michigan Supreme Court overturned its Poletown decision. "If one's ownership of private property is forever subject to the government's determination that another private party would put one's land to better use," the court said, "the ownership of real property is perpetually threatened by the expansion plans of any large discount retailer, 'megastore,' or the like."

    Now it's up to the U.S. Supreme Court to put an end to eminent domain abuse nationwide. When Kelo is argued before the court, the justices will be asked a simple question: Does "public use" mean the government can take people's homes and small businesses and resell the land to Pfizer, Donald Trump or other private parties?

    The answer should be no. Everyone, rich or poor, should have the same right to be secure in their homes and businesses. Otherwise, our property rights will be only permissions granted by the government -- and revokable at will.

    Timothy Sandefur is an attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation, a public interest legal organization dedicated to defending private property rights and individual freedom. Sandefur wrote the foundation's amicus brief supporting the property owners in Kelo v. New London.

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/opinion/columnists/guests/s_306007.html
     
  2. CivilLiberty
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    CivilLiberty Active Member

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    I thoroughly disagree with eminent domain used for private purposes. In some ways I'm surprised it has gone on this long. However, at the same time I don't see a constitutional protection as long as due process is followed.

    It's not as if it's a new thing - eminent domain was used for private purposes in the days of the railroad, as the government gave the railroads enormous tracts of land on either side of their right of way.


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  3. Johnney
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    Johnney Senior Member

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    thats crazy. why would someone sink 100's of 1000's of dollars into buying a house/ business/ whatever, keep in the family for generations then be told that they are going to get what someone thinks is a "fair" price and they have to move. that is some crap right there.
     
  4. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Senior Member

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    Im trying to find any ambiguity on the part of the Constitution that would explain why judges seem to side in favor of taking away private property.

    It's happening here in NJ in Highland Park...Store fronts and homes are in jeopardy of being taken away from their owners who have been there for 100 years + to make way for a large health spa. The citizens have banded together and are taking it to the NJ Supreme Court. One business owner was told by a developer that he could do it the hard way or the easy way, but either way he was going to lose his business and home which is attached to the business.
     
  5. Johnney
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    Johnney Senior Member

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    i still can figure out why someone would want to do this.
    now how is a health spa going to help anyone? sure its going to offer jobs for the area. but what about the 100 (just a figure i threw out there) people who have been displaced? how many business have been jacked up because of it?
    a health spa isnt going to do anything for the majority of people. just those that are inclined to pay high prices for such service. thats not helping anyone but the developer line his pockets. hey i realize people gotta eat, but dont tear the kitchen down.
     
  6. CivilLiberty
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    CivilLiberty Active Member

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    No ambiguity at all. It is the fifth amendment:


    U.S. Constitution: Fifth Amendment

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.



    The fifth shows that as long as "Due Process" and "Just Compensation" are met, the government can take your property.

    The term "public use" is really where the potential contention lies. Is it "public use" for the government to hold land and lease it to private enterprise? Or is public use limited to highways and government buildings?

    As an example, the World Trade Center was built and funded by the government, to revitalize lower Manhattan. But the office space was leased to private enterprise.


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  7. Johnney
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    Johnney Senior Member

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    but define jsut compensation.
    im sure someone who had spent evry last dime he had on his house or business is going to see jut comp as something alot more valuable than the person who wants to obtain it.
     
  8. CivilLiberty
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    CivilLiberty Active Member

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    Just compensation is generally defined as fair market value plus expenses.



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  9. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Senior Member

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    But that's the point of this case in NJ. I hardly think a health spa equates with a highway. This is private developers greasing local officials palms and putting residents out of their homes and businesses for one health spa. Id be livid!!
     
  10. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Senior Member

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    It's quite a lot of businesses, almost a whole downtown area of shops, restaurants, candy store, ice cream shop, etc, and most of these businesses also serve as the proprieters residences.
     

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