Newspapers And Eminent Domain


by Timothy Sandefur

Along with city bureaucrats, newspapers tend to be the leading supporters of using eminent domain to “improve the local economy” by taking homes and businesses from people and giving the land to private developers. This is generally because the newspapers see such things as “progress,” and they cater to the community of businesses that benefit from such condemnations. The Toledo Blade is no different; in this editorial it criticizes the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision in the Norwood case, and comforts itself with the claim that “the court’s unanimous decision keeps eminent domain alive in Ohio as an important tool of last resort for aging cities to use in revitalization efforts….”

Ah, yes, the “last resort” line. Gotta love that one. Of course eminent domain is a last resort. A robber only shoots you as a last resort! Saying eminent domain is a last resort is like saying “give us the property and we won’t have to take it from you.”

But less excusable is the newspaper’s complete silence on the fact that Rookwood partners, the company behind this condemnation, spent a great deal of effort to convince the city council to declare the neighborhood blighted (or “deteriorating”) so that Rookwood could get it. Here you can see the properties that the city said were deteriorating. Yes, these houses definitely need to be last resort-ed, eh? Shame on the Toledo Blade for defending the indefensible.