More on Alabama’s Eminent Domain Through the Back Door

As Jesse Walker noted earlier this month, officials in Montgomery, Alabama have been seizing and demolishing private property without providing just compensation to the owners as required by the Constitution, something the libertarian historian David Beito has rightly denounced as “eminent domain through the back door.” Here are a few more of the infuriating details, courtesy of the local Fox affiliate:

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.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "The actions that we are taking, I think are speaking volumes about cleaning up our city, and having a safe neighborhood so that we can raise our family and enjoy the fruits of our labor."

    -Mayor Strange: Champion of the Homeowner

    Any follow-up question there, Mr. Local Reporter?

  • Obvious Joke||

    How is this any different from local governments' typical backdoor, tax-farming predilections?

    Is blighting slightly more lubricated than eminent domain?

  • gnut||

    What they should do is privatize the neighborhood.

    Then a private corporation can take these people's homes, and nobody here would complain.

    Because the theft would be privatized.

  • Enyap||

    and how does private corporation take over homes without government force or the government grossly neglecting their duty to protect property right. Did you think about this before you posted this question to be a swarmy cuntstain?

  • ||

    ""and how does private corporation take over homes without government force or the government grossly neglecting their duty to protect property right."""

    Private security contractors and the govenment will keep doing the bang up job of protecting property rights as usual.

  • gnut||

    > and how does private corporation take over homes without government force
    > or the government grossly neglecting their duty to protect property right.

    With the use of adhesion contracts known as mandatory membership HOA unions.

    HOA corporations can and do foreclose on homes for trivial amounts and reasons, a topic I have brought up here at Hit & Run before, and elsewhere.

    > Did you think about this before you posted this question to be a swarmy cuntstain?

    1. Yes. See above.
    2. I did not post a question.

  • barfman||

    *barf*

  • Sidd Finch||

    Fox 6 is the Birmingham affiliate.

    This is the same video in Walker's post.

    Both Beito's and Fox's articles are just vague assertions. "McCall suspects ... rare two-acre parcel on a major thoroughfare ... McCall thinks ... a strategic parcel ... over several hundred" What the hell does that mean?

    "... as opposed to buying land at fair market value,' he said." The end of this article looks like the beginning of a news story. If there's really "over several hundred [WTF]" cases, how hard can it be to compare their compensation to market rates?

    I'm opposed to almost all eminent domain, especially the back door variety, but this is just weak. Two people with rare, strategic property of dubious existence claim the city is stealing it. Does the city have an opinion? If the authors actually verified the properties, some addresses would be appreciated. Without anything else this reads like Breaking News: Prisoners Claim Innocence.

  • ||

    I'm opposed to almost all eminent domain, especially the back door variety, but this is just weak.

    If you're actually "opposed to almost all eminent domain," then the very fact that these people didn't want to sell for the price that the government forced them to would be proof enough. If you "oppose almost all eminent domain," then you reject the idea of forced sale without both parties agreeing. You don't really need the other party to verify this fact; simple fact that one party disagrees is enough.

    So I'm forced to conclude that you only oppose eminent domain in certain circumstances, perhaps when it's used against people you're more sympathetic with.

  • Sidd Finch||

    By "almost all eminent domain" I meant Constitutional reasons, roads mainly (but you knew that). Minarchist 101 rant, yada yada. I made it abundantly clear that I don't approve taking or destroying "blighted property." That you can take that to mean I'm racist or something says more about you than me.

  • ||

    Without anything else this reads like Breaking News: Prisoners Claim Innocence.

    Terrible analogy. Opposition to eminent domain springs from the idea that transactions should be the mutual agreement of both parties.

    No one things that all prisoners and convicts should consent to their guilt and imprisonment.

    By analogizing those who have had their property forcibly taken from them to prisoners, you vitiate your claim that your "opposed to almost all eminent domain." You must view the process as inherently and properly adversarial.

  • Sidd Finch||

    Eminent domain victims have the same motive to claim unfair compensation as prisoners to claim innonence: there's no downside. And thanks for another minarchism 101 lesson.

    This libertarian purity shit is annoying. Free markets are good even though some businesses suck. Shitty journalism is shitty journalism even when it advocates property rights. It's not that difficult.

  • People Power Hour||

    Can anyone imagine anything lower than whale shit except for maybe a politician in Montgomery?

  • ||

    libertarian historian David Beito has rightly denounced as “eminent domain through the back door.”

    Oh, I see what he did there.

  • Bigga Tito||

    Naw...Crack/Crank Hos, Drug Dealers and POS deserve the same rights.

  • Obbop||

    "There's class warfare, all right, Mr. (Warren) Buffett said, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."

  • MikeB||

    Those of us who have faced the threat of eminent domain know two things: It is a sobering experience and private property owners do not stand on a level playing field legally, politically or economically.

    The challenge is that more eminent domain is on its way through many back doors. In addition to economic development takings using the Kelo or “blight” approach, we are in the midst of natural resource development takings in pursuit of shale gas (as in Barnett shale, Marcellus shale, and more).

    The pursuit of these gas-rich shales brings with it more pipelines and more underground gas storage fields — and that (pipelines & storage fields) always means eminent domain.

    And in Pennsylvania, the gas industry and some legislators are talking up “forced pooling” which will permit gas companies to seize gas under your property, even if you refuse to sign a lease.

    Unfortunately, the otherwise excellent Institute for Justice of Kelo fame declines to intervene in energy/utility takings because, they told me, of the “public good” premise. Instead, the Institute should reconsider and offer support in this expanding “market” for eminent domain abuse.

    But property owners can fight back. Our two-year battle against Houston-based Spectra Energy which seized our property rights for an underground gas storage field led to the development of a website.

    Through it, we are collaborating and helping property owners in many states. To learn from our experience and to understand the adverse effects of eminent domain, refer to: Spectra Energy

    Or here: http://www.spectraenergywatch.com/blog/?p=616

    Private property rights are so fundamental that founding fathers such as Samuel Adams described it as an “essential” right and wrote, “that no man can justly take the property of another without his consent.”

  • gnut||

    > Private property rights are so fundamental that founding fathers
    > such as Samuel Adams described it as an “essential” right and wrote,
    > “that no man can justly take the property of another without his consent.”

    Define "consent."

  • ||

    Unlike many things the government does, the taking of property with just compensation is in the Constitution.

    Different people have different opinions of what "just" means.

    If they are taking property because of valuable resources, I would say the value should be adjusted accordingly.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    just: the same price that the owner would have voluntarily sold it for.

  • ||

    Certainly if the city sells the land to a developer for $X, just compensation isn't going to be anything less than $X; in many cases it'd be more. For instance, if there was a house on the land, and they only sell the land, the just compensation includes the value of the house.

    And while governments usually try to dishonestly lowball the value of property they're taking "fair market value" is what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller - but if the owner's not willing, then the fair price is obviously going to be enough higher than that that the seller would be willing to sell.

  • scarf||

    Is blighting slightly more lubricated than eminent domain?

  • burberry scarf||

    our burberry scarf is your best choice,they are nice quality at a good discount,great welcome everyone order from us.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

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

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement