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House approves eminent domain measure

[JURIST] In a 376-38 vote late Thursday, the US House of Representatives [official website] approved a bill [text, PDF] that would strip state and local governments of federal funding if they use eminent domain to transfer privately owned land to commercial interests. The Senate approved a similar measure [JURIST report] last month. The US Supreme Court drew widespread critical attention [JURIST report] to eminent domain doctrine earlier this year by deciding in Kelo v. City of New London [text; JURIST report] that the City of New London Connecticut could expropriate private land when it was in the public interest for the land to be commercially developed. Many states are currently considering legislation [JURIST report] that would prevent such an application of eminent domain within their boundaries. In support of the bill, co-sponsor Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga) [official profile] said "with this "infamous" decision, homes and small businesses across the country have been placed in grave jeopardy and threatened by the government wrecking ball." Justice John Paul Stevens [OYEZ profile], author of the majority opinion in Kelo, defended the result in an August speech, saying that the law has "always allowed local policymakers wide latitude in determining how best to achieve legitimate public goals." AP has more.

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