The Fifth Amendment suggests that eminent domain may be used to take property only for "public use." At least, it used to.
On June 23, 2005, in Kelo v. New London
, the Supreme Court held that the "public use" requirement does not mean that the government has to actually use the property in order to justify a taking. The Court held that local and state governments may use eminent domain to take private property in order to give it to another private party where it might benefit the public.
Thus, if a Wal-Mart would generate more tax dollars than your home, your town can take your home (with compensation) and give it to Wal-mart.
You can read more about the facts of Kelo here
. Sadly, what happened to the Kelo family is not unusual. All over the county, developers are lobbying local governments to get them to use their eminent domain power to acquire property for private developments. A catalog of these injustices can be found here
Instead of pursuing amendments to save flags
, Congress should be pursuing amendments to save homes. Something like this:
Eminent domain shall not be used to redistribute private property from one private party to another, but shall be exercised solely in where the government will own, or the public will have a legal right to use the property once it has been taken.
Okay, maybe this needs some work. But that's what this blog is all about. The open-source approach seems to work for developing software. Why not for Constitutional amendment? Let the collaboration begin.
Use the comments to give your suggestions. Maybe we'll be able to come up with something good. And maybe we can convince some Congressmen that homes are more important to save than flags.