Biggert Backs Private Property Rights
U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13) is pressing for legislation to restore the property rights threatened by this week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Kelo v. City of New London.
Introduced yesterday by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI-5) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI-14), the Private Property Rights Protection Act, H.R. 3135, would prevent the federal government or any authority of the federal government from using economic development as a justification for exercising its power of eminent domain. Biggert is an original cosponsor of the legislation.
On June 23, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling in Kelo v. City of New London in which it held that the creation of a more lucrative tax base can justify the government's taking of private property from one small homeowner and giving it to a large corporation for a private research facility. The court held that "economic development" can be a "public use" under the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause*, justifying the government's taking of private property.
"How can we continue to encourage an ownership society when it suddenly becomes acceptable to take away homes and businesses that belong to hardworking, tax-paying Americans," asked Biggert. "This bill will right a wrong that serves to severely threaten homes, small businesses, and other private property throughout Illinois and across the nation."
The legislation also would prohibit any State or municipality from using economic development as a justification for exercising its power of eminent domain whenever federal funds would contribute in any way to:
* Any project for which the State's or municipality's power of eminent domain is exercised; or
* The exercise and enforcement of the eminent domain power over any such project.
"Protection of private property is at the core of democracy," Biggert said. "If Congress doesn't act, no one's home will be safe."
Biggert also joined her colleagues in expressing Congressional disapproval of the Kelo v. City of New London Supreme Court decision with House passage of H. Res. 340. Biggert, a cosponsor of the resolution, joined the House in agreeing to H. Res. 340 by a vote of 365-33.
*The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides in part that, "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."