Just Compensation...for the Demolition Crew

Was it really just four months ago that I could write, "You don't see a lot of people trying to rally the troops by invoking racial quotas these days"? Now you hear race talk everywhere, on the right as well as the left, most of it aimed more at scoring partisan points than illuminating anything. So I'm glad to note some genuinely valuable work coming out of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights down in Alabama, where the libertarian historian David Beito has been serving as chair of the commision's state advisory committee.

The focus there is on what Beito calls "eminent domain through the back door," which has fallen especially heavily on low-income blacks. "Under this system," Beito writes, "Montgomery has demolished homes without the normal due process of conventional eminent domain--and often gives little notice. The city alleges that these homes are 'blighted' but...at least some are in excellent repair." Rather than providing the just compensation required under the Fifth Amendment, the city "bills the owner for the cost of demolition and he or she is left with an essentially worthless property."

Beito's full post is here, and a Fox story on the subject is here. From the latter:

Jimmy McCall and his attorney Norman Hurst were among more than 100 witnesses and property owners who testified before the same hearing. McCall says he was building a 5000 sq. ft. home out of salvaged and recycled wood. His property sits along a busy thoroughfare. McCall says many have asked him to sell his land but he is always refused....

McCall says he took the city to court to prevent demolition and won in both state and federal courts. McCall also got an injunction forcing the city off his property. Using the blight ordinance, McCall's property was eventually demolished and he was sent the bill.

"I never thought a municipality or any other government agents would go against a court order," McCall said. "I never thought they were that bold and arrogant and that they, you know, could just say away with you -- we're gonna do what we want to do and they did it. You know they actually came out and did it."

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Virginia||

    expecting the courts to save them from the political class? what a bunch of chumps.

  • ||

    Oh wow, OK who would have thunk it??

    Lou
    www.remain-anonymous.at.tc

  • SWAT team leader||

    Those fellas have an idea there. We can start charging per round for all the dogs we have to kill. Plus the stress of our officers being forced to shoot.

  • Spoonman.||

    they, you know, could just say away with you -- we're gonna do what we want to do

    Welcome to government.

  • ||

    Now you hear race talk everywhere, on the right as well as the left, most of it aimed more at scoring partisan points than illuminating anything.

    Same as it ever was.

    "I never thought a municipality or any other government agents would go against a court order,"

    Judges don't take kindly to their orders being ignored. I wonder why this one didn't issue some contempt citations, with fines and jail time.

  • Corduroy||

    It would be lovely to see some politicians and/or bureaucrats brought up on charges over this. IJ should pursue this one with a vengeance.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Hit&Run; legal eagles:

    Does (or would in the jurisdiction you know) Mr. McCall have recourse to go to the enjoining court and ask for a finding that the city acted in contempt?

    If so, can the court take action against the officials who made the decision, or only against the city?

    Does he have recourse to ask the enjoining court for compensation, or must he start again?

  • Chinny Chin Chin||

    a Fox story on the subject

    Wait... what? I thought Fox was for angry rich white gun-toting ratbagging tea fuckers only?!?

  • ||

    "I never thought a municipality or any other government agents would go against a court order," McCall said. "I never thought they were that bold and arrogant and that they, you know, could just say away with you -- we're gonna do what we want to do and they did it. You know they actually came out and did it."

    'How many divisions does a municipal court have?' Alabama Stalin

  • alan||

    Who kneecaps the kneecappers?

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    I'll bet the SPLC helps out alot in cases like this.

  • ChrisO||

    No, they're too busy going after the three or four toothless idiots that still belong to the Klan.

  • PIRS||

    And wrongly accusing the LvMI of racism because they criticize the War Between the states without recognizing that they oppose ALL war. They are anti-war, period. The LvMI calls them racist for being consistantly anti-war.

  • PIRS||

    make that last line "The SPLC calls the LvMI racist because they are consistantly racist."

  • PIRS||

    Take three "The SPLC calls the LvMI racist because they are consistantly anti-war" forgive me, it is late. They need to provide edit ability. That would solve this multi-post problem.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement