Eminent Domain Could Get a Chilling

The US House of Representatives passed a bill denying federal funds for two years to any state or local government that uses eminent domain to steal land for private developers. City officials like Hartford Connecticut Mayor Eddie Perez are alarmed that this could interfere with their various pet projects:

Hartford Connecticut Mayor Eddie Perez, speaking on behalf of the National League of Cities, said it would “create a chilling effect on the use of eminent domain for a variety of public purposes not specifically mentioned in this legislation including schools, public safety facilities, and affordable housing.”

Now look at that list. Highways arguably require eminent domain because of the potential cost of going around a single plot of land. Airports and other very large scale projects that require very specific sites that cover large areas of land arguably require an eminent domain power. Schools, public safety facilities and affordable housing are normal size buildings that should be built the same as any commercial building of similar size. The only reason eminent domain would be needed is if the gubmint isn’t willing to buy in the open market. Since even with eminent domain they are supposed to provide “just compensation”, this is basically an admission that they are, in fact, using eminent domain illegally – to force below market price sales for projects where there is no other justification for its use. So, this excellent bill may “chill” the use of eminent domain in other cases where it’s not really appropriate either? Bonus.

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