Baltimore to Abuse Eminent Domain to Keep Horse Race


by Timothy Sandefur

It's happened before: government using eminent domain to keep sports franchises from leaving town. Decades ago the city of Oakland, California, condemned the Oakland Raiders so that they wouldn't leave town. (As a friend of mine said recently, "The Raiders? Talk about blight!") The California Supreme Court allowed that condemnation to go forward.

Now comes word that the city of Baltimore, Maryland, is considering using eminent domain to seize control over the Preakness horse race, the owner of which is entering bankruptcy proceedings. Here's the money quote from Governor O'Malley: "It wouldn't be responsible for us to presume that there will be a private market solution to this."

Oh, yes. It would be irresponsible to allow consumers and property owners to freely bargain over what to do with the resources that belong to them. If that happened, they might come to a decision about whether to keep the Preakness or not based on what they can afford, and what else they might prefer to put their money into. Instead, Governor O'Malley's "responsible" officials should use force to take away the right of individuals and businesses to make their own economic decisions, and set up what bureaucrats think is the "right" outcome.

Here's more from our friend Gideon Kanner.