Little Help for Little Guy With Eminent Domain Problem


By Timothy Sandefur

Boston columnist John P. Lambert says in this article that "The great howl of rage that greeted the Supreme Court's Kelo decision a few months ago is but a whisper in state legislatures today. A lot of people would be hard put to remember even that Kelo sustained the right of local and state governments to seize private property in order to deliver same to a second private party who could make better economic use of the property and generate greater tax revenue from the taking."

I disagree. It's true that state legislatures have for the most part been stingy with eminent domain reform; California's legislature, for example, strangled any attempt at even the most mild reform. But it's not because citizens don't care or don't remember. On the contrary; a year after Kelo, most people seem to remember the case very clearly, and they're still outraged by it. And we have seen some very strong reforms, for example in Florida. It's true, as Lambert says, that "There is much hypocrisy among state legislators in dealing with changes in state laws," but the blame rests squarely on their shoulders, not on the citizens.