House Aims To Bulldoze Land Ruling

Cities may bulldoze people's homes to make way for shopping malls or other private development, a divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday, June 23, 2005.
Reacting to a recent Supreme Court decision, lawmakers are moving to make it more difficult for local governments to seize private property that stands in the way of shopping malls and other commercial development.

The House approved by a 231-189 vote a bid by conservative Scott Garrett, R-N.J., to bar federal transportation funds from being used to make improvements on lands seized via eminent domain for private development.

"They're going to have to find their own money, instead of coming to Washington," Rep. James Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said after Thursday's vote.

In a 5-4 ruling last week, the Supreme Court said municipalities have broad power to bulldoze people's homes and put up shopping malls or other private development to generate tax revenue. The decision drew a scathing dissent from Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as favoring rich corporations.

Legislation in the works also would ban the use of federal funds for any project getting the go-ahead using the Kelo v. City of New London (Conn.) decision.

Susette Kelo, whose riverfront house in New London's Fort Trumbull neighborhood is set to be razed, said she's glad politicians in Washington are working against the decision.

"I think the people in this country are outraged in this decision, and rightly so," she said. "Everyone in this country has just lost the right to own their own property."

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for