Ryan Votes to Protect Private Property Rights, Punish Abuse of Eminent Domain Power
November 3, 2005
WASHINGTON - In an effort to defend private property rights in the face of a Supreme Court ruling that unduly exposes private homes, businesses and land to potential forced sale, the House today passed H.R. 4128, the Private Property Rights Protection Act, by a vote of 376-38. First District Congressman Paul Ryan, who is a cosponsor of this legislation, voted in favor of it because it would punish government abuse of the power of eminent domain and uphold Americans' constitutional right to private property.
Eminent domain refers to the power of federal, state, and local governments to take or force the sale of private property for public use, such as for construction of a bridge or road. The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution provides that in such cases, the property owner should receive "just compensation." The original intent of the Takings Clause was to protect a person's property from unjust confiscation by the government.
In June of this year, the Supreme Court significantly expanded government's power of eminent domain in the Kelo v. City of New London case. In this case, the Supreme Court allowed New London, Connecticut to take private property from homeowners and sell it to a corporation because it would benefit the area's economic development and provide more tax revenue for the city.
Many Americans, including Congressman Ryan, see this as a violation of private property rights, a departure from the Constitution's protection of these rights, and a dangerous precedent that puts the average citizen's home or small business at risk of being seized and handed over to those with greater economic clout.
"The Supreme Court made a terrible mistake with its Kelo decision, which severely undermines private property rights throughout our country," Ryan said. "When someone works years to secure a home or establish a successful family store or restaurant, only to be forced by the government to give it up so a corporation can redevelop the land, that's wrong. I took an oath to defend the Constitution, and this means protecting citizens' right to own private property and prevent government from abusing its power. Today's legislation supports these goals and helps put control over privately-owned land back in the hands of individuals and the marketplace, instead of government and the courts."
H.R. 4128 would deny federal economic development funds to any state or locality that abuses its power of eminent domain by using "economic development" as a rationale for taking private property, and it would prohibit federal agencies from engaging in this practice.