Walker Votes to Stop Inappropriate Use of Eminent Domain
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.) today released the following statement after the House passed H.R. 1689, the Private Property Rights Protection Act, with bi-partisan support::
“The right to own private property is fundamental to all of our other freedoms. North Carolina farmers and families need certainty that the federal, state or local government cannot seize their property with unfair and inappropriate claims of eminent domain. Government taking private property only to transfer it to another private party is in clear violation of the Fifth Amendment.”
The Private Property Rights Protection Act prohibits states that receive economic development funding from exercising eminent domain for economic development.
Eminent domain is the process by which the government gains ownership of private property for public use without the owner’s consent. Traditionally, this power has been used by governments to build public use projects such as highways, railroads, and parks. A more recent development in eminent domain practice has been for governments to seize private property for “public benefit” such as economic development. A 2005 United States Supreme Court decision, Kelo v. City of New London, dealt with this practice.
This legislation includes a sense of congress that rural lands are unique in that they are not typically considered high tax revenue generating properties and need long-term certainty of their property rights and that the use of eminent domain is a threat to agricultural and other property in rural America. It also includes a sense of Congress that precautions should be taken to avoid unfair taking of property from Hurricane Katrina survivors. It would require that if a court determines that a violation of this act has a disproportionate impact on the poor or on minorities, the Attorney General would be required to use reasonable effort to locate past owners and tenants and notify them of violations.