Apr 16, 2010

Great Letter to the Editor ~ Eminent domain is America’s version of ‘despotic power’

The Clarion-Ledger’s take on the proper use of eminent domain is not only mistaken, it’s frightening (“Mississippi voters should reject eminent domain petition,” reprinted in Other Voices in the Sun Herald on April 12). By cheerleading the government’s forcible acquisition of property to provide Mississippians “jobs and an opportunity to better themselves,” the editorial advocates for no limit on what courts have rightly called “the despotic power.”

Just as Justice O’Connor presciently forecast in her dissent in Kelo v. City of New London when she wrote “nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory,” under the Clarion-Ledger’s definition of public use, no one’s home or small business would be safe. Just ask our clients, the Archies, who almost lost their homestead in Canton for a Nissan factory. Ultimately, Nissan relented, showing once again that economic development and respect for property rights can coexist.

That a newspaper fails to recognize the consequences of its position is tragic. That it doesn’t want the citizens of Mississippi even to have a say in the matter is worse.

(The Institute for Justice litigated the eminent domain case on behalf of the Archie family in Canton and the Kelo eminent domain case before the Supreme Court.)

Institute for Justice Arlington, Va.

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