What the Government Taketh Away, the Court Gives Back

Thursday, July 27, 2006
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The Ohio Supreme Court came down on the libertarian side in the Norwood case: The city of Norwood had taken the property of three property owners who refused to sell to a slimeball developer – with the powers of the state behind him – who thought he had bought his way to the finish line. He wasted his political campaign contributions, because the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that “Ohio cities cannot take property by eminent domain solely for economic development,” which is in direct contradiction with the US Supreme Court, who ruled that a government could take private property for economic development.

Richard B. Tranter, a lawyer for Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate, declined to say what the developer’s next step would be. An appeal to federal courts is unlikely because the court decided the case on state law.

“This is a sad day for Norwood and other Ohio cities desperately trying to revitalize their communities,” he said. “I wonder if the 66 former homeowners would agree with the court’s comparison of their neighborhood to Beacon Hill in Boston and Knob Hill in San Francisco.”

How dare those brazen property owners who stands in the way of an upper crust neighborhood! Why them selfish, rotten bastards. On the basis of that quote alone, that attorney should never be able to wake up and breathe good air ever again.

Thomas W. Merrill, a law professor at Columbia University, has some analysis that shows that “federal courts almost never overrule a government taking, while state courts do so in about one of six decisions.” This sets a huge precendent for Ohio, and hopefully, may influence other state-by-state challenges to eminent-domain laws.

The Institute of Justice deserves a round of applause.

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