WASHINGTON (CNN)—A fight by homeowners to save their New London, Connecticut, neighborhood from city officials and private developers—an important property rights case with an unusual twist—will reach the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.
This case before the Supreme court relates to the reach of eminent domain. Eminent domain basically means that the state can take your land, if such taking is for the public good and that there is reasonable compensation. The main question in such cases is usually what is the definition of public good. It generally refers to construction of highways, schools or that perhaps the area is a slum or is “blighted” and needs to be cleared. The question is whether can eminent domain be used by the state to take (with compensation) the land from one individual (home owners) and give it to another private individual (Pfizer corp). In this discussion, let us examine the various issues separately.
1) Basic Principle:
What is your bottom line on the usage of eminent domain. Do you believe that:
A) NO: Never be used in ANY circumstances.
B) PUBLIC ONLY: Used only for public purpose – Highways, schools, etc.
C) NO PRIVATE: Never used for private purpose – Even if say the company wants to invest $100billion in the area to create jobs and that there is only one person who refuses to sell.
D) SIGNIFICANT PRIVATE: Used for private purpose – If it is shown that there is significant benefit to the community, that also significanly outweighs the cost.
E) BALANCED INTEREST: As long as on a balance of interest there is greater benefit to the community, such as increased taxes from the new entity.
If you believe in the wider (private) use of eminent domain but you are hesitant with regards to evaluation reports on the so called benefits, then your protest should be here, rather than the principle itself. Also protest about possible corruption of state officials should be directed here, since presumably a corrupted state official in the hands of the private company, would make us question the validity of the benefits report.
Why is there is divide between private and public purposes? Should not the test be one for the community? After all a high-tech research facility (Pfizer) or a car manufacturing plant (GM in Detriot) that creates jobs in the area, may be more beneficial than a highway to nowhere. It could be argued that a private purpose only benefits the workers and perhaps its suppliers but a highway or school similarly only benefits those who drive (or takes the bus?) or have children. It could also be argued that the state should not “subsidize” one private corporation over another. But if that help results in the creation of several thousand jobs, is it really that bad?
If you are complaining about the amount paid, then obviously your protest should be the formula for calculation of the compensation rather than principle.
5) Big Corporations: Evil
If you are protesting this because you generally or as a principle protest anything that big corporation does, then this is your port of call.
So what is your opinion on eminent domain. Aye or Nay?