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Saturday, July 14, 2007

The new urban strategy - stealing our land through eminent domain

Stealing our Land through Eminent Domain

Are governments repeating the urban renewal policies of the 1950s and 1960 that uprooted hundreds of thousands of minority and low-income communities? Is there an attack on us again? Or is it something that never stopped? Check out the post below and let us know what you think. Is this another Mirror on America? Read this report

Hat Tip: Institute for Justice

Arlington, Va.—The poor, less educated and minorities are disproportionately targets of eminent domain abuse.

Those are the findings of a first-of-its-kind national study released today by the Institute for Justice that systematically examined U.S. Census data to determine the profile of people subject to eminent domain abuse in 184 projects across the country.

The study, “Victimizing the Vulnerable: The Demographics of Eminent Domain Abuse,” found that 58 percent of those targeted with the threat of eminent domain were minority residents (compared to only 45 percent in surrounding neighborhoods that were not targeted with takings), and those targeted had an annual median income of less than $19,000 (compared to $23,000 in surrounding neighborhoods). Moreover, a greater percentage of people living in areas targeted for eminent domain for private development have less than a high school diploma and smaller percentages have various levels of college education compared to surrounding communities.

“Eminent domain abuse is essentially Robin Hood in reverse: taking from the poor to give to wealthy, politically connected developers,” said Dr. Dick M. Carpenter II, director of strategic research at the Institute for Justice, who directed the study. The report is available at http://www.ij.org/publications/other/demographic_study.html.

The study vindicates the warning offered by former-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who wrote in her dissent in the infamous Kelo case that eminent domain would be used “to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more.” Saturday, June 23, 2007, marks the second anniversary of the Kelo ruling in which the Supreme Court ruled that governments may seize non-blighted homes and turn them over to another private party based on little more than the mere promise that the new owners could use the land in a way that might create more jobs and pay higher taxes.

“The only real solution is ending eminent domain for private development,” said Chip Mellor, president and general counsel of the Institute for Justice. “Those with the least means most need robust protection of constitutional rights. This is especially important in the context of eminent domain because eminent domain doesn’t just kick people out of their homes, it uproots entire communities and social networks, which is especially devastating for those of lower-income, predominantly minority communities.”

Mellor said, “It appears that governments are repeating the same tragic mistakes made in the failed urban renewal policies of the 1950s and 1960s that uprooted thousands of minority and low-income communities.” More HERE


In a dissenting opinion opposing the majority on Kelo, former Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor noted that lower income property owners would be the ones most often victimized by government seizure of their property. She wrote, "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

Justice Clarence Thomas also opposed the majority's decision. In his dissent, he wrote, "Allowing the government to take property solely for public purposes is bad enough, but extending the concept of public purpose to encompass any economically beneficial goal guarantees that these losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities." Source: MontgomeryAdvertiser.com

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