June 30, 2005

CRAPO CO-SPONSORS PROPERTY RIGHTS BILL

Says recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling takes takings too far

Washington, DC - Citing a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that could cause private property owners to forfeit their land or buildings for economic reasons to government entities, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo quickly signed on to a bill seeking to stop such actions. The "Protection of Homes, Small Businesses, and Private Property Act of 2005" was introduced yesterday by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas). "This ruling takes the takings clause and stretches it too far. It is clearly not what has been intended in the law with respect to eminent domain actions and must be corrected," Crapo said. "The Private Property Act is a good start." Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling that government may seize the home, small business or other private property of one owner, and transfer that same property to another private owner, simply by concluding that such a transfer would benefit the community through increased economic development. Crapo said the ruling seems counter to the traditional principle that the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution to provide private property rights against government seizure and other unreasonable government interference. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution specifically provides that "private property" shall not "be taken for public use without just compensation." Crapo pointed out the Fifth Amendment thus provides an essential guarantee of liberty against abuse of power of eminent domain, by permitting government to seize private property only "for public use". But he said last week's court ruling concluded that a government initiated transfer of private property from one private owner to another is constitutional because it would benefit the community through increased economic development.Crapo says the bill, S. 1313, would clarify the government's exercise of power of eminent domain to be limited only for public use. "Public use" would not include economic development under the legislation. The bill regards takings by the federal government, but encourages states to consider similar action. "I have heard from a number of Idahoans very opposed to this court ruling," Crapo said, "Hopefully this legislation can pass Congress quickly and be signed into law by President Bush."# # #