This Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the day that the Supreme Court put every property in America up for grabs to the highest bidder. On June 23, 2005, the Court ruled that private property can be seized through eminent domain for private economic development on the mere possibility of increased tax revenue or jobs. Following the decision, Congressmen James Sensenbrenner and John Conyers – the majority and minority leaders of the House Judiciary Committee – co-sponsored H.R. 4128, the Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2005. This bill will cut off federal economic development funding for governments using the power of eminent domain to take property and transfer it for private commercial development. It will strongly discourage the large numbers of abuses we are now seeing in the wake of Kelo.
By a vote of 376 – 38, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4128 on November 3, 2005 – and it has remained in the Senate Judiciary Committee untouched ever since. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Contact Senator Leahy TODAY and tell him:
It’s time for the Senate to pass this bill NOW – It’s been one year since the Kelo decision and seven months since the House passed H.R. 4128. The Senate needs to do what the Supreme Court was unwilling to do and protect this country’s home and small business owners.
Any blight exception in the bill must be narrowly defined and only for properties that pose an immediate threat to public health or safety – Most condemnations for economic development take place under the claim that the area is supposedly “blighted.” The federal bill has an exception allowing local governments to still receive federal money if it takes properties that are harmful to public health or safety. The question is whether this exception will allow taking only severely troubled properties or whether it will allow cities to take any property just by calling it “blighted.” Unless “blight” is narrowly defined as something that is an immediate threat to public health or safety, that term will gut the bill and render it worthless.
Senator Leahy’s contact information is below. We strongly encourage you to contact both his home and Washington, D.C. offices. His home state office addresses are also listed; visiting to voice your concerns is a very effective and powerful way to show your support for eminent domain reform. If you’d like to send him an email instead, you can do so through this link: https://action.popuvox.com/default.aspx?actionID=270.
This bill will not pass without your voice! With your help, we’ll be able to stop tax-hungry governments and land-hungry developers from seizing private property for their own private purposes. Take a few minutes to protect your home or business and contact Senator Leahy TODAY!
Assistant Castle Coalition Coordinator
Institute for Justice
901 N. Glebe Road, Suite 900
Arlington, VA 22203
Leahy, Patrick J. (D – VT)
433 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
199 Main Street, 4th Floor
P.O. Box 933
87 State St., Room 338