Leviathan Begins To Stir
by John Fund
June 25, 2005
After celebrating the Supreme Court's decision yesterday to effectively give local governments carte blanche to seize land for private development, some local officials began quickly moving to use their new unlimited authority. Officials in the beachfront town of Freeport, Texas, announced they would move forward with plans to commandeer property owned by two seafood companies in order to allow the construction of a 900-slip private marina. Freeport will even be loaning the developers $6 million to finance the project, and if it fails the town won't be getting its money back. What is certain is that the displacement of the two seafood companies will cost scores of jobs.
The Supreme Court's decision, by a narrow majority with Justice Anthony Kennedy
as swing vote, has prompted state Rep. Frank Corte, a Republican from San Antonio,
to propose a state constitutional amendment limiting the power to condemn private
land for use by other private entities. He says the amendment is now necessary
in order to "limit a local governmental entity's power of eminent domain,
preventing them from bulldozing residences in favor of private developers."
No doubt there will be similar moves in other states as voters wake up to the
realization that the Supreme Court has granted revenue-hungry local governments
more or less unlimited authority to seize homes and businesses in order to achieve
a "higher use" of the property.