Last month marked the five year anniversary of Kelo v City of New London, a contested US Supreme Court decision voted 5-4 that allowed eminent domain to be used by the government to force property transfers between two private parties. In this particular case, a homeowner was uprooted from their home so the property could be rented to a private developer for $1.00 a year, with the intent of flushing the city with money, jobs and tax revenue.
Five years later the lot sits vacant, the private developer never obtained funding, and not a dime of revenue was ever generated. Besides thousands of dollars in court costs the next largest publicly paid expense was the relocation and additional compensation of the homeowner. “This is simply another example of how government intrusion, despite whatever story politicians drum up, always involves less liberty for private citizens and is rarely effective and never efficient,” stated Charlie Earl, Libertarian Party Candidate for Ohio Secretary of State.
The first eminent domain case after Kelo v City of New London was decided by the Ohio Supreme Court in 2006. In Norwood v Horney, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the economic benefits to the community did not constitute public use as defined in the Ohio Constitution. This laid the groundwork for states to reject the US Supreme Court findings, and establish public use not only as an economic benefit, but of actual use by the public.
This case shines a light on the negative consequences of giving governments too much power. If a business or a private citizen forced another citizen to enter into a contract against their will, it would be a crime. However, when government forces a citizen into a contract with the government against their will, it is considered allowable under the US Constitution.
By: Mathew Erickson, Guest Contributor
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