NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 11, 2006

Voters in more than a dozen states will go to the polls next month with the potential of taking the first steps in reclaiming private property rights threatened by recent court decisions.  Private property rights have long been ignored as a "constitutional step-child" by federal courts, says H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

"It is practically inconceivable that our nation's founders who wrote the Fifth Amendment would have agreed with modern interpretations of 'public use,'" says Burnett.  "Taking private property from one citizen to give to another on the promise of increased tax revenues and jobs makes a mockery of private property as a right as opposed to a privilege subject to government whim."

  • Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon and South Carolina will vote this year on eminent domain measures that would limit government's powers to force the sale of private property for another private use or economic development.
  • Meanwhile, four Western states -- Arizona, California, Idaho and Washington -- will determine whether follow Oregon's lead and begin compensating citizens when government regulations lower the value of private property.

Since a 2004 constitutional amendment made Oregon the only state to allow payments for so-called "regulatory takings," there have been more than 2,400 claims requesting more than $5.6 billion in compensation. 

Oregon's law requires a government body to "pay or waive," meaning it can waive the regulation instead of compensating a property owner for a diminished use of his land.  In every claim so far that the state found to be valid, the government has chosen to waive the regulation or give a partial waiver, rather than pay.

Source: "Voters Have Chance to Reclaim Property Rights; NCPA Scholar Suggest Federal, State Actions Long Overdue," National Center for Policy Analysis, October 10, 2006.


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