House Intends to Change Eminent Domain Law

source: CBS News

WASHINGTON - House is seeking to pass a bill that would undercut a 2005 Supreme Court ruling that allows state and local governments authority to take over private property for the purpose of economic redevelopment.

Sponsors of the bill do not agree with the Kelo v. City of New London ruling which "justified the government's taking of private property and giving it to a private business for use in the interest of creating a more lucrative tax base" - according to Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.

Proposed changes include withholding of federal aid to states or locales that exercise the eminent domain power for redevelopment purposes. The bill also aims to disallow the federal government from using eminent domain for redevelopment, and allows those affected to take legal action if the rules are broken.

Maxine Waters of California, a liberal Democrat supports the bill, claiming the eminent domain power has been abused by powerful interest groups for long enough, all at expense of the little guy.

Law makers oppose the decision, criticizing the "dangerous interpretation of the taking clause" in the Constitution's 5th Amendment that lets government seize property for public use, with just compensation.

Rep. John Conyers of Michigan also opposes the bill, pointing out that the states have done their own duties in amending eminent domain laws to prevent abuse and that Congress should not barge in and assume a "national zoning board" position. He also pointed out that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is except from eminent domain restrictions. The pipeline was rejected by President Barack Obama, however republicans have been backing its construction with vigor.

There is no indication as to the Senate's stance on this bill.

Article comments include several outbursts at the pipeline exemption, as well as support for both sides of the proposed bill.