NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Coalition Forms to Fight Abuse of Eminent Domain

March 5, 2002

In the past few years, local governments have increasingly used the power of eminent domain to condemn privately-owned homes and businesses to make way for other privately-owned businesses, malls, industrial developments and upscale housing. Eminent domain was never intended for such purposes, legal experts point out, but that doesn't stop some public authorities.

  • In New London, Conn., a private organization has been given the government power to condemn more than a dozen properties -- including the home of an 82-year-old grandmother -- for construction of an office park and other development to complement a nearby Pfizer research facility.
  • Merriam, Kan., condemned a car dealership so a higher-profit neighboring BMW dealership could expand.
  • The city of Riviera Beach, Fla., is moving forward with plans to force out more than 5,000 residents for privately-owned commercial and residential development.

These are a few of the situations described in a newly-released report issued by an organization called Castle Coalition. The report is entitled "Government Theft: The Top Ten Abuses of Eminent Domain, 1998-2002."

Castle itself is a new organization formed to fight the growing trend of eminent domain abuses. Its name comes from the old saying, "A man's home is his castle."

The nonprofit organization, Institute for Justice, has often taken up eminent domain cases in the past. But it reports that it cannot handle even one-tenth of the cases that now come its way. Its leaders would like to generate a national movement to discourage eminent domain threats to private citizens by private firms.

Source: Dana Berliner and Scott Bullock (both of the Institute for Justice), "Eminent Domain Abuses Unchecked," Washington Times, March 5, 2002.


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