House of Representatives acts to protect rights of property owners

With the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that vastly expanded the powers of Eminent Domain looming, the House of Representatives voted last week to pass the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Bill.

The legislation contains measures designed to limit the government’s use of the controversial tool. New York Rep. Tom Reed voted in favor of the bill and discussed his position following the vote.

“The right to private property is fundamental to our nation and our economy,” Reed said. “Private property owners should not have to be afraid of their property being taken from them by their government. The practice of Eminent Domain is all too often used as an excuse for government to do whatever it chooses, leaving landowners with little recourse to fight back. This bill brings us one step closer to stopping the practice once and for all.”

On June 23, 2005, the Supreme Court handed down the decision in the Kelo vs. New London case. The ruling states that all levels of government are authorized to confiscate private property from citizens to make space for private economic development, if it is determined to be beneficial for the community as a whole.

 “As the tenth anniversary of the Kelo decision approaches, the pattern of consistent overreach from government is clear,” Reed said. “I can think of few things more patently unfair, taking someone’s home, in order to develop a commercial property.”

The proposed legislation would prevent any level of government from utilizing any federal funds on projects which involve the use of Eminent Domain, specifically for private economic development.

Reed has also sponsored the Defense of Property Rights Act, a bill that would provide property owners with the right to seek compensation in federal court after an act of government significantly reduces their property’s value. The measure aims to make government to strongly consider the consequences of their actions and making them accountable. That legislation is working its way through the process within the Judiciary Committee.