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Amendment would protect Californians' homes
State senator proposes measure to prevent Kelo-type property seizure

WorldNetDaily | July 14, 2005

Hoping to prevent government from seizing Californians' land for use by private developers, a state senator is introducing an amendment to the state constitution to guarantee property rights.

Republican Sen. Tom McClintock, who ran for governor against Arnold Schwarzenegger, is sponsoring legislation designed as a pre-emptive measure against eminent domain action similar to what happened in New London, Conn., which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld last month.

The Kelo v. City of New London decision, handed down June 23, allows the government of New London, Conn., to seize the homes and businesses of residents to facilitate the building of an office complex that would provide economic benefits to the area and more tax revenue to the city. Though the practice of eminent domain is provided for in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, this case is significant because the seizure is for private development and not for "public use," such as a highway or bridge.

McClintock's proposal would require that a government must either own the property it seizes through eminent domain or guarantee the public the legal right to use the property should it be transferred to a private party. In addition, the proposed amendment requires that seized property must be restored to the original owner or his or her rightful successor if the government ceases to use it for the purpose of the eminent domain action.

GOP Assemblyman Doug La Malfa and other property-rights advocates will join McClintock at a press conference in Sacramento today to announce the proposal.

At the time the Kelo decision was handed down, McClintock said the high court "broke the social compact by striking down one of Americans' most fundamental rights."

Continued McClintock: "Their decision nullifies the Constitution's Public Use Clause and opens an era when the rich and powerful may use government to seize the property of ordinary citizens for private gain. The responsibility now falls on the various states to reassert and restore the property rights of their citizens."

An effort by a California man to have Justice David Souter's New Hampshire home condemned to make way for the "Liberty Hotel" is gaining ground. Souter was one of the five justices to uphold New London's right to seize its residents' property.

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