On June 4, 2013, the United States Congressional Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice approved legislation to prohibit state and local governments that receive federal economic development funds from using eminent domain to transfer private property from one private owner to another for the purpose of economic development. The legislation is named the Private Property Rights Protection Act (H.R. 1944) is available here and is a direct response to the 2005 Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London, which gave local governments broad authority to seize private property under the guise of economic development in order to generate tax revenue.
The House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) praised the Subcommittee’s vote, saying “Private ownership of property is vital to our freedom and prosperity, and is one of the most fundamental principles embedded in the U.S. Constitution; however, the 2005 Supreme Court decision issued in the Kelo vs. City of New London case jeopardizes the protection of private property from government seizure guaranteed by the Constitution. The Private Property Rights Protection Act will help to limit the negative impact of this damaging Supreme Court decision.”
Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), the chief sponsor of the legislation, similarly expressed his approval, “American citizens have a fundamental right to use their property for whatever lawful purpose they choose. Congress should protect private property rights and reform the use and abuse of eminent domain. As a result of Kelo v. City of New London, farmers in Wisconsin are particularly vulnerable because farmland is less valuable than residential or commercial property. This bill would restore the rights the Supreme Court took away and provide Americans with the means to protect their private property from inappropriate claims of eminent domain.”