The State of Property Rights One Year Later
A lot has happened since the Kelo ruling. As I settled into my new home of Denver, Colorado, I’ve been trying to learn all I can about the issues and the players in Colorado politics. One of the first things I uncovered: the Colorado Libertarian Party headquarters along with thousands of private citizens are going to be displaced as a result of eminent domain to build a private toll road. The Colorado Libertarian Party has been active in the property rights crusade; is this just a coincidence? Despite the Colorado Legislature’s attempt to stop this abuse, Governor Bill Owens (R) vetoed the bill citing Colorado’s increasing “transportation needs.” This is but one example nationwide of the consequences of Kelo.
Not all that has happened in the past year since has been bad for property owners, however. In a way, Kelo has done property owners a favor by forcing the states to deal with the issue. Since the ruling 25 states have passed laws to protect property owners from similar abuses of power. Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington, and Wisconsin have efforts underway to do the same. Voters of many of these states will have their say in November. And while Colorado citizens were dealt a blow with Governor Owens’ veto, the Colorado Supreme Court has just ruled that cities cannot declare an area ‘blighted’ without a public hearing.
On the federal front, over one year after Kelo President Bush signed an executive order to limit the federal government to use eminent domain “for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties.” While I welcome this action on the part of the president I cannot help but wonder…what took him so long? My theory: he’s a politician who is feeling the heat just as many politicians are on this issue. The American people are fighting back. While much more needs to be done, who knows, maybe in a few years this Republic will be saved from the Supreme Court…on this issue at least.