The House Judiciary Committee today approved legislation by voice vote that prohibits state and local governments that receive federal economic development funds from using eminent domain to transfer private property from one private owner to another for the purpose of economic development, the Private Property Rights Protection Act (H.R. 1944). This legislation is in response to the 2005 Supreme Court decision in the case of Kelo v. City of New London, which gives local governments broad authority to seize private property under the guise of economic development just to generate tax revenue. The Private Property Rights Protection Act passed the House of Representatives in the 109th and 112th Congresses.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), chief sponsor of the Private Property Rights Protection Act, praised today's Committee vote.
Chairman Goodlatte: "Private ownership of property is vital to our freedom and prosperity, and is one of the most fundamental principles embedded in the U.S. Constitution; however, the 2005 Supreme Court decision issued in the Kelo vs. City of New London case jeopardizes the protection of private property from government seizure guaranteed by the Constitution. The Private Property Rights Protection Act will help to limit the negative impact of this damaging Supreme Court decision.
"Families all across our nation continue to fight hard and make the tough decisions necessary to keep their homes, farms and businesses in these challenging economic times. It is simply wrong to allow the government to sweep in and grab hardworking Americans' property just to hand it over to someone else the government thinks should have it."
Congressman Sensenbrenner: "American citizens have a fundamental right to use their property for whatever lawful purpose they choose. Congress should protect private property rights and reform the use and abuse of eminent domain. As a result of Kelo v. City of New London, farmers in Wisconsin are particularly vulnerable because farmland is less valuable than residential or commercial property. This bill would restore the rights the Supreme Court took away and provide Americans with the means to protect their private property from inappropriate claims of eminent domain."