Center Argues that Property Ownership is at the Foundation of Individual Freedom
"The Constitution does not allow the government to use eminent domain to take property and sell it to the highest bidder in a play to pocket greater tax revenue"
C e n t e r F o r I n d i v i d u a l F r e e d o m
December 3, 2004
Contact: Reid Alan Cox
Center Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Protect Property Rights
Amicus Brief Argues that Property Ownership is at the Foundation of Individual Freedom
Alexandria, VA In an amicus curiae brief filed today with the U.S. Supreme Court, the Center for Individual Freedom joined the Pacific Legal Foundation in asking the High Court to protect property owners from local governments use of eminent domain to seize private property under the guise of promoting economic development.
"Property ownership is a fundamental right afforded to the people in the U.S. Constitution," said Jeffrey Mazzella, the Centers Executive Director. "Unfortunately, with aid and comfort from the courts, local governments are increasingly undermining this fundamental right through their aggressive use of eminent domain. Were asking the Supreme Court to end this practice and protect property owners."
In the case, Kelo v. City of New London, the city government handed over its power of eminent domain to a non-profit corporation it had created to promote economic development. The corporation struck a deal to seize an area of land held by private property owners and use it for the development of a business park, hotel and other commercial projects.
In the brief authored by PLF attorney Timothy Sandefur, PLF and the Center argue, "Condemnations that take the land of innocent citizens, and transfer it to private developers for their own profit, are fundamentally unfair. ... The primary victims of such condemnations are poor minorities, and the primary beneficiaries are wealthy, politically powerful groups."
"The Constitution does not allow the government to use eminent domain to take property and sell it to the highest bidder in a play to pocket greater tax revenue," said Reid Alan Cox, the Centers Assistant General Counsel.
"If the supposed benefits of economic development can justify taking someones private property and selling it to a favored business, then no property is safe. The government will suddenly be empowered to take any home or business its wants," continued Cox. "Thats anathema to our free society."
"In many ways, cases like this sound like a tale from the dark ages when the local lord took your land and gave it to someone he believed to be more deserving. Citizens have fought for hundreds of years to gain and protect their right to property ownership. Now, the laws that are supposed to protect this fundamental right are being turned on their head. Were asking the Supreme Court to put a stop to this abuse," Cox concluded.
The Center for Individual Freedom (www.cfif.org) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting individual freedoms and individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, including private property rights, free speech rights, privacy rights, equal protection rights, due process rights, and the freedoms of association and religion. In furtherance of its mission, the Center engages in advocacy in the legal, legislative, and educational arenas. Since its founding in 1998, the Center has filed numerous amicus curiae briefs before the Supreme Court in cases raising important questions concerning individual freedom.
December 2, 2004]