Congress moves to dilute eminent domain ruling
John Conyers and Tom Delay working together on a bill to stop local government from taking an individual's property for business purposes? Thank goodness I was sitting when I read this article.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, led a team of GOP House members and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., headed a Democratic group that will jointly fight to deny federal money to any project in which economic development triggered government to exercise its power of eminent domain.Seeing all this bipartisan love leaves you to wonder where was Congress for the last seven years when Susette Kelo needed help? I guess better late than never.
Conyers - who said with a laugh, "When I see myself voting the same way as Tom DeLay, I carefully reconsider what I've done" - recalled how government often took the homes of lower-income minority group members to build glittery urban projects. DeLay saw a need to stop courts from overreaching, and to protect property owners from government intrusion.
They have a powerful weapon. Their bill could result in staggering losses to cities and states that depend on Community Development Block Grants and other Washington money. The Senate is considering similar legislation.
This flurry of legislative action - an unusually quick, bipartisan response to a court ruling - is aimed at easing the impact of last Thursday's 5-4 Supreme Court decision in the Kelo vs. City of New London case.
The court said the government could seize a home, small business or private property and transfer it to another private interest if that transfer would help the community's economic development.
"Who's Tom DeLay?" Kelo asked Thursday when told about the bill.
Then she chuckled. "We've been waiting for help for seven years, and no one other than the Institute for Justice [which argued her case] helped us," she said. "So I'm grateful."