"No Trespassing! Private Property" lost all meaning when the Supreme
Court ruled that businesses have the right to obtain private land that is
in the best interest of the community.
For years eminent domain has been defined as the right of government to
take private property for public use. However, in their latest ruling the
Supreme Court has opened up new risks of eminent domain misuse. Instead
of considering what's solely best for the public at large, governments
can now also consider the option that generates the greatest tax revenues.
Not all the Supreme Court justices agreed with the ruling.
Justice O'Connor wrote, "The specter of condemnation (now) hangs over all
property. Nothing is (there) to prevent the state from replacing any
Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall or any farm
with a factory."
Dana Berliner; a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice and author
of a report titled "Public Rowel; Private Gain," recently uncovered more
than 10,000 instances occurring over the past five years where private
land was seized or threatened with seizure to be used for private development.
Berliner states, "This report is a wake-up call to all
citizens. Your property can be taken away by the unholy alliance of government and business interests. It is happening all over the country,
and it can happen to you."1
(Can government and private property co-exist?)
Taking something from another without their consent is defined by God and
John Locke as theft: "Thou shalt not steal" - whether it is by one or many.
At issue, also, in regard to eminent domain is the matter of why property
is taken. The idea behind eminent domain has always been that the whole
body of the people would benefit from the property taken. Civil bodies
were the instruments to gain property for the use of the whole body of
the people for their benefit. The word "eminent" in the phrase "eminent
domain" indicates that there is a power higher than the body of the people.
It is important to remember that those exercising their authority for the benefit of the people should keep clearly in mind, at the same
time, that they were chosen into office for the purpose of protecting the
Everyone can and does use the highways and streets.
The "everyone" is the whole people as opposed to that which respects an individual.2
We frequently use the term "public" to express this.3
However that may be, the question is: how did those civil servants come
to be higher than the people? Notice they are civil servants. In fact, I
think you will agree with me that only God is a truly "eminent" person.
He does say He has "all power in heaven and in earth!"
Civil servants can only claim they are eminent in the sense that they
were delegated by the whole people to act (as an eminent body) for the
whole body: the "public" for the benefit of the whole. They would do
this, for instance, when a county road is needed. We talked about the
proper way to handle the matter of how a civil body could gain possession
of private property for public use in our previous
You will notice that the word "use", a noun, is associated with the word
"public"; that is: it is a phrase: "public use." The phrase "public use"
as it relates to eminent domain is defined by Black as:
Public use. in constitutional provisions restricting the exercise of the
right to take private property in virtue of eminent domain means a use
concerning the whole community as distinguished from particular individuals. But each and every member of society need not be equally
interested in such use or be personally and directly affected by it; if
the object is to satisfy a great public want or exigency, that is sufficient
... but (it) Must be in common, and not for a particular individual.4
It is easy to see that the original reason/idea for the taking of
property by eminent domain was for a public use.
Today the courts are telling folks that property may be taken for a
public purpose. How could that be used to do with property anything the
taker desires? How does that change the whole scenario? Noah Webster
tells us that the word purpose means: "That which a person sets before
himself as an object to be reached or accomplished"....
This is quite a bit different from the noun "use". The word "purpose" is not a synonym
for the word "use"! One cannot find such in any dictionary.
Here is a perfect example of the saying, "Ideas have consequences!"
Substituting "purpose" for the word "use" has turned eminent domain up-side-down.
In a recent article in the Sacramento Bee Columnist Dan Walters wrote:
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer that governments could
seize homes and other property to facilitate private development projects, it touched off a political firestorm throughout the nation
- including California - and fueled demands for new barriers to misuse of
governmental "eminent domain" powers.
California's version of the debate centered on the aggressive use of
eminent domain - or the threat to use it - by city redevelopment agencies
to assemble land for hotels, auto malls, big box retailers and other projects.
Although California law says that redevelopment powers can be
invoked only to combat "blight", local officials have been quite creative
in their application of the term. And when the Supreme Court declared that "there is no basis for exempting economic development from our
traditionally broad understanding of public purposes," it seemingly validated those aggressive redevelopment efforts.5
Re-read the "purpose" for instituting eminent domain: "for hotels, auto
malls, big box retailers and other projects." What do you call these?
Don't we ordinarily refer to them as "private enterprise"? Those few
words in the Columnist's Dan Walters warning article points up the problem: the difference between "public" and
What is now the process by which property is being taken as "defined" by
the supreme court? Condemnation! - A process that means there is something
seriously wrong with the property which gives civil servants the "right"
to take property from one owner and give it to another individual, company or corporation for a different "purpose"!
Your home could be condemned under this process, you would be given whatever was determined
a reasonable price, and the property sold and replaced "with a shopping
mall or ... a factory" or "a Motel 6 (replaced) with a Ritz-Carlton."
No one reading this thinks this is honest! No one thinks eminent domain was
meant to do this!
We have not finished, however.
What is used to carry out this process of
condemnation? Blight! Yes, blight.
If you are a gardener, you have heard of "blight."
What does that have to do with the subject at hand? (Read
Columnist Walters article again.)
Can it be used, has it been used "creatively" to take that which is not legal
or moral to take? It is being used as a ruse to obtain property.
Those claiming eminent domain condemn a piece of private property (yours?)
because of "blight", pay the going rate, redistrict it, sell it for redevelopment or to a private company, corporation, or developer for a
"public purpose"! (Whatever that means.)
But what is "blight"?
The word "blight" is used in the dictionary only of plants, so we went to the Thesaurus and found the following synonyms:
Blight, decay, dilapidation, ravages of time, wear and tear, corrosion, erosion, moldiness, rottenness, moth and rust, dry rot.
Could your house have some of this?
Could an inspector find some or all
of the above if he needs it to determine that ones property fits his definition of a "blighted" piece of property!
Could your home be condemned and sold for a hotel or super-market or.....?
Don't let him in your house!
Better yet: become better acquainted with your Constitution and Bill of
Rights and start working on or with your elected representatives.
Didn't you elect them to represent you and protect your property?
Bill of Rights: Article IV:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers,
and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.
Bill of Rights: Article V:
No person shall...be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due
process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.
Article I, Sec. I, California Constitution. (How does your state say
"All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable
rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and
obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy."
We call a tyrant the leader whose only law is that of his own whim, who
expropriates the property of his subjects, and then drafts them to go take that of their neighbors. -- Voltaire, "Tyrannie", Dictionnaire
our Founders understand how our property must be protected? Get "You
and the Bill of Rights" study manual described on this
web site for a broader understanding of that document. Read what
presidential candidate, Mr.
Howard Phillips of the Conservative Caucus, said of it.
1. Quoted from
magazine. (Back to article)
PUBLIC, a. [L.publicus, from the root of populus, people; that is,
people-like.] 1. Pertaining to a nation, state or community; extending to
a whole people;... Thus we say,... public good, public calamity, public
service, public property. (Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the
English Language) (Back to
3. Public, adj. Common to all or many; general, open to common use.
Belonging to the people at large; relating to or affecting the whole people of a state, nation, or community; not limited or restricted to any
particular class of the community. Peacock v. Retail Credit Co.,
32 F. Supp. 44418, 423.3 Black's Law Dictionary p. 1227. (Back
4. Black's Law
Dictionary p. 1232. (Back to
"Eminent Domain Bills Are Stalled
- except one for casino tribe" from the Sacramento Bee web
site, 09-16-05. (Back to
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