Thursday, 28 March 2019 22:40

EDITORIAL: McInnis, Goodman on the right side of eminent domain

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We applaud Richmond County’s legislative delegation for their attempt to protect property rights.

State Sen. Tom McInnis and state Rep. Ken Goodman, a Republican and Democrat respectively, both support bills that would clarify the use of eminent domain — the loophole in the Fifth Amendment that allows governments to take private property for public use for “just compensation.”

Goodman has introduced five similar bills in the House during his time in the General Assembly. Why they haven’t gone anywhere is surprising to us.

The effort, which would require a constitutional amendment — which, in turn, would require a referendum on the ballot for voters to decide — is in response to one of the worst decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court in the past 15 years.

In the the controversial decision in Kelo v. City of New London, the court ruled that the takings clause in the Fifth Amendment could be used for “public benefit” not “public use” as worded.

In that case, a Connecticut town used eminent domain to condemn properties to make way for a Pfizer pharmaceutical plant, claiming the proposed jobs would benefit the public.

Local homeowners sued and lost.

The case was decided in 2005, but Pfizer pulled out. To this day, the land remains undeveloped.

While interfering with the use of private property is an encroachment on freedom, we understand the state does have legitimate uses for land, be it for roads or utilities.

But the takings clause should never be used simply for economic interests.

In a lot of cases, landowners will voluntarily give up property as long as they’re compensated properly.

Goodman’s eminent domain bill passed the House and is currently in the Senate Rules Committee. McInnis is a co-sponsor on the companion Senate bill.

We hope the legislature will pass this bill so future state and local governments won’t attempt to use the court’s wrongheaded interpretation of eminent domain.


Last modified on Friday, 29 March 2019 11:21