( #kelo #eminentdomain ) The result of the Supreme Court’s supremely wrong decision in the 2005 Kelo v. New London decision was the notion that the state possessed the power to “condemn” your land, force you off of it, and hand it over to some other private entity who made promises to make use of that land in a manner that would generate more money for the state. A simple search on the topic here at HoodaThunk? will show you I’m no fan of the decision and believe strongly that the citizens of this nation should revoke this abomination of public power. It’s clear that judges, even our honored SCOTUS Justices, cannot be trusted to protect the private property rights that are the foundation of any free people. To that end, only amendments to the constitution of the states and of the United States as a whole will emphatically declare to these alleged servants of the nation that it is beyond their authority to grant such an unwarranted expansion of power to the various levels of government.
I remember very clearly when Kelo was announced that people were dismissive of the notion that such an event as occured at New London could happen here in Virginia. Local governments, they said, could not act because of the Dillon Rule approach we have here in Virginia. They would not act because of the political backlash, they said. Well, as I mentioned right after Kelo it appears that there are governments who got over that fear pretty quickly. The most recent case is happening right here in Virginia and it’s running out of time:
For 50 years, Bob Wilson has been making radio parts for the federal government.
“I love my job. I love my business, “ he said as he walked outside his “Central Radio” factory.
Now, the local government in Norfolk, Va., wants to take his factory and the property under it away using its eminent domain powers. And it’s not because Norfolk needs a new public park or a road connector. Wilson says they just want it for “retail space,” and thinks that’s wrong.
“We just feel it’s not right that they should be able to take this,” he said. “It’s not morally correct, it’s not legally correct.”
Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the proposed constitutional measure, the Virginia Eminent Domain Amendment, in April which places it on the ballot in November. You can see the text of the amendment here in the Governor’s report on Virgina Acts of Assembly – 2012 Session. (PDF)
Of course, the Virginia Association of Counties opposed the amendment:
But Jim Campbell, who heads The Virginia Association of Counties, calls the amendment proposal “too broad” and says it will hurt community planning across the state.
“All this means (is) there’s going to be higher costs for acquiring land,” said Campbell, whose group opposes the measure.
“Most counties take land for good reason, a school or a road,” he explained. “This is just going to drive up the costs of eminent domain.”
I’m curious how Mr. Campbell squares his statement that “[m]ost counties take land for a good reason, a school or a road” with the reality of what’s going on with this case in Norfolk. They are most certainly not doing that and I’d love to hear his defense of this action. I’m guessing he doesn’t have one, which, I’d like to point out, is precisely why this amendment is being offered. He might want to note that the argument, “because it’ll make us pay property owners more for the land we’re gonna take from them” is probably not going to come off as compeling.