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Opening Arguments

The essentials

Indiana isn't the only state reacting to the infamous and outrageous Kelo decision by tightening rules of eminent domain. In fact, most are. This seems like a pretty lame attempt at providing "balance" and "perspective":

More neutral observers expressed concern that state officials, in their zeal to protect homeowners and small businesses, would handcuff local governments that are trying to revitalize dying cities and fill in blighted areas with projects that produce tax revenues and jobs.

"It's fair to say that many states are on the verge of seriously overreacting to the Kelo decision," said John D. Echeverria, executive director of the Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Institute and an authority on land-use policy. "The danger is that some legislators are going to attempt to destroy what is a significant and sometimes painful but essential government power. The extremist position is a prescription for economic decline for many metropolitan areas around the county."

There might be a "neutral" observer out there on Kelo, but I've never met one. The decision pretty much divided people into those who think private-property rights aren't taken nearly seriously enough and those who think government always knows best, with far more of the former than the latter. It's significant that the legislative outrage cuts across almost all typical divisions, including poltical-party affiliation and urban-rural demarcations. Calling any legislative response to a ruling by five out of nine people, unelected and serving for live, "overreacting" seems patently silly to me.

Finally, local governments should be "handcuffed," even if they are trying to revitalize dying cities. The handcuffs are created by public opinion, i.e. "the consent of the governed." The ability to keep our property, unless there is a completely justified public need and we are adequately compensated, is far more essential than any government power to reverse economic decline. The very essence of this country is the individual, not the group.