NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

A Victory For Property Rights in Illinois

April 5, 2002

In the most important case in years to curb local government use of eminent domain powers, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a local authority's condemnation of a metal-recycling plant's property to make way for a race-track parking lot.

  • The court said the use of condemnation in economic-development cases should be closely scrutinized in light of constitutional requirements that government takings serve a "public use."
  • The majority opinion in the 5-2 decision warned that eminent domain be exercised "with restraint, not abandon."
  • The case -- which had been closely watched by both economic development officials and property-rights advocates -- is the latest in a string of legal actions in which state and federal courts have blocked or delayed government condemnations.
  • Just last month, a Connecticut state judge permanently blocked the condemnation of 11 homes and a business on the grounds that the city of New London and a nonprofit group given condemnation powers weren't explicit enough in stating what they intended to do with the land once they took it.

The economic-development agency in the Illinois case is considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Source: Dean Starkman, "Illinois High Court Ruling Curbs Use of Eminent Domain Power," Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2002.

For WSJ text (subscribers),,SB1017959498689751200-deanstarkman,00.html


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