Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Bob Goodlatte
Date: Feb. 28, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, private ownership of property is vital to our freedom and our prosperity, and it is one of the most fundamental principles embedded in our Constitution. The Founders realized the importance of property rights when they codified the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which requires that private property shall not be taken ``for public use without just compensation.''

This clause created two conditions to the government taking private property: that the subsequent use of the property is for the public, and that the government give the property owners just compensation.

However, the Supreme Court's 5 4 decision in Kelo v. City of New London was a step in the opposite direction. This controversial ruling expanded the ability of State and local governments to exercise eminent domain powers to seize property under the guise of ``economic development'' when the public use is as incidental as generating tax revenues or creating jobs, even in situations where the government takes property from one private individual and gives it to another private entity.

By defining ``public use'' so expansively, the court essentially erased any protection for private property as understood by the Founders of our Nation. In the wake of this decision, State and local governments can use eminent domain powers to take the property of any individual for nearly any reason. Cities may now bulldoze private citizens' homes, farms, and small businesses to make way for shopping malls or other developments.

For these reasons, I joined with Chairman Sensenbrenner to introduce H.R. 1433, the Private Property Rights Protection Act.

I am pleased that H.R. 1433 incorporates many provisions from legislation I coauthored in the 109th Congress, the STOPP Act. Specifically H.R. 1433 would prohibit all Federal economic development funds for a period of 2 years for any State or local government that

uses economic development as a justification for taking property from one person and giving it to another private entity.

In addition, this legislation would allow State and local governments to cure violations by giving the property back to the original owner. Furthermore, this bill specifically grants adversely affected landowners the right to use appropriate legal remedies to enforce the provisions of the bill.

H.R. 1433 also includes a carefully crafted definition of economic development that protects traditional uses of eminent domain, such as taking land for public uses like roads, while prohibiting abuses of eminent domain powers. No one should have to live in feaBREAK IN TRANSCRIPTr of the government snatching up their home, farm or business, and the Private Property Rights Protection Act will help create the incentives to ensure that these abuses do not occur in the future.

I urge my colleagues to support this important piece of legislation.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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