Reason Foundation

Reason Foundation

More on Sen. Cornyn's Eminent Domain Bill

Leonard Gilroy
June 28, 2005, 10:37am

On Monday I posted a link to federal legislation introduced by Sen. Cornyn that would limit the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes when federal funds are involved. My initial reaction was that Eugene Volokh was right: this bill would mainly serve a symbolic purpose, since it only applies to situations in which federal funds are used in the exercise of the eminent domain power. It likely wouldn't put much of a dent in the rampant state and local abuse of eminent domain. And if passed, I think that the symbolic effect of the legislation could possibly be counterproductive, as many people currently aghast at the Kelo decision may feel satisfied that Congress has "done something" and subsequently think that the issue has been adequately addressed. Hence, a "take your eyes off the ball" effect, which could potentially diminish public enthusiasm for state-level legislative efforts to address eminent domain abuse. But for those of us that aren't lawyers, the legal - rather than political and social - ramifications of such a bill can be somewhat esoteric, so it is always helpful when legal experts weigh in with their opinions. What follows are a handful worth considering. According to Hillel Levin on Prawfsblawg, the bill is evidence of democracy in action: Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog suggests that the bill may run afoul of the Constitution (read the whole thing for details): Blogger Will Baude at Crescat Sententia offers a counterargument: Setting aside constitutionality issues, lawblogger KipEsquire from A Stitch in Haste is wary of the bill: Not sure yet where I come down on this one, and I'm probably not alone, so I offer the above perspectives just as food for thought. (Hat tip to Volokh for getting the ball rolling on this one.)

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform

Print This