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Congress urged to end government involvement in takings for private development

[JURIST] Susette Kelo, whose case led to the June US Supreme Court ruling in Kelo v. New London [opinion text; JURIST report; Institute for Justice backgrounder], where the court held local governments can take homes for private development, urged [prepared testimony] the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] Tuesday to end government involvement in these seizures and protect people's homes. The panel is considering proposals [hearing materials] to bar federal money from construction projects that benefit from the Kelo ruling. Addressing the committee, Kelo urged:

I sincerely hope that Congress will do what judges and local legislators so far have refused to do for me and for thousands of people like me across the nation: protect our homes under a plain reading of the U.S. Constitution. Federal lawmakers should pass legislation that will withhold federal development funding for cities that abuse eminent domain for private development - such as the one that could take my home, which received $2 million in federal funds. What we have now at the local, state and federal level amounts to "government by the highest bidder," and that has got to stop.
Sen. John Cornyn, (R-TX) [official website] is pushing a bill that would ban the use of federal funds in any construction relying on Kelo. At the hearing, Cornyn testified [prepared statement] that "[t]he protection of homes, small businesses and other private property rights against government seizure and other unreasonable government interference is a fundamental principle and core commitment of our nation's founders" and asserted that "the power of eminent domain should not be used simply to further private economic development." At least 25 states are currently considering changes to eminent domain laws [JURIST news archive] to prevent the taking of land for private development. AP has more.

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