Sunday, July 03, 2005

Eminent Domain -- once a buzz, now a swarm -- potential stingers

In 2001, as a candidate for Mayor as a 'free market republican' in a contested primary, my pledge was to work against any and all forces of eminent domain. Back then I had thought we had gone overboard. Perhaps that whine came before its time!

The flap over Eminent Domain is now more than ever.

In 2005's race, I stood against eminent domain in my platform. It went to the matter of our willingness to over litigate and reach solutions that are not 'ideal.'

As we know, in 2001 and in 2005, I didn't "win" at the ballot box. However, some points were scored in the discussion. And, opportunities exist to make eminent domain a more pressing issue for all politicians and all races for the years to come.

The PG's Sunday paper had two more letters to the editor. The author of the first letter, Scott B, came to Pittsburgh a number of times in the past to help the locals fight eminent domain. He has some family in the area. I had the good pleasure of meeting him and assisting then (a bit) with those efforts. The second letter comes from fellow leader of the Libertarian Party in Allegheny County.
Be very afraid of this decision on eminent domain

Your editorial "Eminent Sense" (June 28) defending the U.S. Supreme Court's appalling eminent domain decision was entirely inaccurate. You sought to reassure Pittsburghers that they had little to fear from the court's ruling. Nonsense.

People in Western Pennsylvania should be deeply concerned about the court's ruling and should work to change the law in Pennsylvania. As Justice Sandra Day O'Connor powerfully wrote in her dissenting opinion: Under the court's 5-4 decision, "nothing is 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."

But an amazing thing has happened in the wake of this decision. One would be hard-pressed to think of a recent Supreme Court decision that has generated such uniform and widespread outrage across the country and across the political spectrum. Americans are virtually united in opposition to it. The homeowners in New London, Conn. have been overwhelmed with phone calls, letters, and e-mails of support. Messages of opposition have filled newspaper letters-to-the editor pages nationwide, including those of the Post-Gazette. Online polls on national Web sites show upwards of 96 percent opposed to the Supreme Court's decision. Clearly, Americans understand how threatening the court's decision is for ordinary home and small business owners.

Now is the time to take this genuine grass-roots anger and energy and transform it into productive activism to change the law in Pennsylvania and throughout the country. For citizens interested in learning how, please go to the Web site of the Castle Coalition (

SCOTT BULLOCK, Senior Attorney, Institute for Justice, Washington, D.C.

Editor's note: The Institute for Justice represented the business owners challenging the potential use of eminent domain in proposed development in Downtown Pittsburgh in 2000.

No friend

I was quite disappointed to read your June 28 editorial ("Eminent Sense") supporting the Supreme Court's Kelo decision concerning the use of eminent domain.

To support the authority of "Big Brother" to take the little guy's home away from him when some vague and unproven central plan is proposed implies your support for sacrificing the individual for the collective good -- or, at least, the good of the government itself and the powerful who are politically connected to it.

And I thought the PG was a friend of the average working person.


Andrew's a short article about Kelo on Freedom's Gate, comes from another area Libertarian. He's already had LTEs published in both the Trib and the P-G. See the
links from his blog.

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