Representative, Bob Goodlatte, a Congressman from the Sixth District of Georgia, concludes that Kelo v. City of New London took away property rights from owners.
The real question is did it allow property rights to be controlled by the State? The Supreme Court did not prohibit State action to limit eminent domain proceedings, rather it limited the Federal Court from taking jurisdiction over individual State’s police power determinations.
While we complain about Kelo, we must recognize that the basic concept to federalism survived only because of opinions such as Kelo and Federal Eminent Domain.
In Barron v. Baltimore, Justice Marshall concluded that the first eight amendments of the Constitution, commonly called the first eight Bill of Rights, binds the Federal government only. The States controlled their own Rights.
If one were to truly look at this closely, one would think the Federal government cannot control State police powers, i.e., eminent domain. If so each state has the right to make the decision on its own.
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Kelo v. City of New London was a step in the opposite direction. This controversial ruling expanded the ability of State and local governments to exercise eminent domain powers to seize property under the guise of economic development when the public use is as incidental as generating tax revenues or creating jobs. In the wake of this decision, State and local governments can use eminent domain powers to take the property of any individual for nearly any reason.
For these reasons, it is important that Congress finally act. This week, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing on the Private Property Rights Protection Act. I was honored to welcome Susette Kelo as a witness at this hearing and appreciate her courage in taking her case all the way to the Supreme Court and helping to highlight the plight that many property owners face.
No one should have to live in fear of the government snatching up their home, farm, or business, and the Private Property Rights Protection Act will help to create incentives to ensure that these abuses do not occur in the future. Our constitutional rights as Americans must be steadfastly guarded.