The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that local governments may seize people’s homes and businesses – even against their will – for private economic development.
It was a decision fraught with huge implications for a country with many areas, particularly the rapidly growing urban and suburban areas, facing countervailing pressures of development and property ownership rights.
As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.
Basically, the court said that it wasn’t up to them to make the decision–that it was up to local governments. But it was a close vote.
I can see how it is problematic to let the federal government mandate how local properties are used, and I am of course a staunch supporter of the rights of local governments. I firmly believe that communities should be able to look out for their own needs as they see fit; blanket rulings by a federal body can be irrelevant or can hinder a community with its own unique needs. However, it seems to me that people’s homes should be something sacred–that people should at least feel secure in their living arrangements. It just feels wrong that now a local government can decide to kick people out of their houses in order to put up a mall.
According to the article, Kentucky, along with South Carolina and six other states, has laws against “eminent domain when the economic purpose is not to eliminate blight”. Georgia hasn’t been definitive on the issue yet.