More Cities Consider Using Eminent Domain to Halt Foreclosures

The increasing use of eminent domain to benefit the GOVERNMENT rather than for “public use” as outlined in the 5th Amendment, is disturbing, and yet another sign that government has strayed completely off of the reservation established for government by the Constitution. The founding fathers were very clear that private property ownership was a cornerstone of our republic.

Suppose a nation, rich and poor, high and low, ten millions in number, all assembled together; not more than one or two millions will have lands, houses, or any personal property; if we take into the account the women and children, or even if we leave them out of the question, a great majority of every nation is wholly destitute of property, except a small quantity of clothes, and a few trifles of other movables. Would Mr. Nedham be responsible that, if all were to be decided by a vote of the majority, the eight or nine millions who have no property, would not think of usurping over the rights of the one or two millions who have? Property is surely a right of mankind as really as liberty. Perhaps, at first, prejudice, habit, shame or fear, principle or religion, would restrain the poor from attacking the rich, and the idle from usurping on the industrious; but the time would not be long before courage and enterprise would come, and pretexts be invented by degrees, to countenance the majority in dividing all the property among them, or at least, in sharing it equally with its present possessors. Debts would be abolished first; taxes laid heavy on the rich, and not at all on the others; and at last a downright equal division of every thing be demanded, and voted. What would be the consequence of this? The idle, the vicious, the intemperate, would rush into the utmost extravagance of debauchery, sell and spend all their share, and then demand a new division of those who purchased from them. The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If “Thou shalt not covet,” and “Thou shalt not steal,” were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.
John Adams; The Founders’ Constitution; Volume 1, Chapter 16, Document 15

Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.
James Madison; The Founders’ Constitution; Volume 1, Chapter 16, Document 23

It would also be a breach of contract law, stepping in to violate the terms of a contract entered into legally and willingly between two parties, when neither party had breached the contract. If you think it’s hard to get a mortgage now, wait until you start cheating the banks out of what they are legally owed from the loans they have made.

Governments employing or exploring the use of eminent domain are severely stretching the meaning of “public use.” Some cities say they plan to take over the mortgages rather than the homes themselves, “saying that will prevent foreclosure, blight and falling property values. If the owners of the mortgages — mostly banks and investors — balk, the letters said, the city could use eminent domain to condemn and buy them.” In other instances, cities have “condemned” and declared eminent domain over private property in order to give it to OTHER PRIVATE PARTIES who will pay HIGHER TAXES. While the goal of preventing “foreclosure, blight and falling property values” sounds good, they are attempting to do so by violating the 5th Amendment, of which the applicable part says…

“nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Confiscating private property to raise tax revenue does NOT constitute “public use.”


Link to article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/16/business/more-cities-consider-eminent-domain-to-halt-foreclosures.html?_r=2&


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