Practice Areas »

Case of Eminent Domain Resonates Years After Supreme Decision

Posted on December 20 2014 by Gabriela Ocampo

In 2005, the United States Supreme Court issued the landmark decision in Kelo V. City of New London, which established that governments, invested with the power of eminent domain, could acquire private land for use in economic development, even in non blighted neighborhoods. Essentially, the Court lowered the standard of "public use" to that of "public purpose." This opened the door to the use of eminent domain to remove property from private owners and place it in the hands of developers, with the assumption being that said developers would develop the property for economic potential.

Backlash

Almost immediately, there was a backlash from a variety of sources and an overall public outcry. Several state passed statutes preventing the use of eminent domain for economic development, while state Supreme Courts in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Carolina, have ruled that the use of eminent domain for economic development violates their state constitutions. On the Federal level, several bills have been introduced over the years since Kelo, to limit eminent domain but most have not made it past the committee stage for one reason or another. One year after the Kelo ruling, then President Bush issued Executive Order 13406, to prevent the Federal government from using economic development as the prime motivation for the use of eminent domain. Even though it has been years since the Kelo ruling, over 80 percent of the public still oppose the use of eminent domain for economic, or "public purpose", according to polls via theCastle Coalition, a ongoing project by the Institute of Justice.

Ongoing Eminent Domain Disputes

Despite the public backlash from the Supreme Court ruling in Kelo V. City of New London, and subsequent changes by some of the states, eminent domain proceedings are still ongoing. The 2008 Great Recession, while delaying some eminent domain seizures, provided a situation where depressed neighborhoods were forced to give way to private economic opportunities. One such example was the construction of the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, where eminent domain was used to remove several properties from private owners. As the economy experiences further growth, the potential for more eminent domain uses to benefit private economic development will also increase.

Essential Protection

Since Kelo, the opportunity for government agencies to use eminent domain has increased. At the same time, this increase also has the secondary effect of allowing these agencies the opportunity to offer less than, what would normally be considered, fair market value. In this situation, the only protection a property owner has is to secure legal representation. However, not just any legal firm will do and eminent domain proceedings require qualified and knowledgeableattorneys to secure the correct outcome for the property owner. One such firm, that has a well earned reputation for providing the maximum benefit for their clients is the Century Law Group. What separates Century Law from other eminent domain firms, is the fact that Century Law never represents condemning agencies. They only represent property owners. This gives them motivation to solely focus on the needs of their clients. What this means for property owners, is that Century Law is determined to effect a positive outcome for you and that there are no conflicting interests that would have a negative impact on the case.