- Constitutional amendment declares that “blighted” property must be “a danger to public health and safety,” effectively eliminating bogus “blight.”
When the 2006 election gave South Carolina’s citizens an opportunity to stand up and express their support for private property rights, they came through with flying colors. More than 85 percent of voters in South Carolina approved a constitutional amendment that provides home and business owners across the state with meaningful protection against eminent domain abuse. The amendment specifically prohibits municipalities from condemning private property for “the purpose or benefit of economic development, unless the condemnation is for public use.” It further requires that an individual property be a danger to public health and safety for it to be designated as blighted, closing a loophole that enabled local governments to use eminent domain for private use under the state’s previously broad blight definition. The amendment also removes provisions of the state constitution that had specifically allowed several counties to use eminent domain for private uses.
Before South Carolinians had their say, state law allowed government officials to take property for private use under the guise of blight removal, so what happened in the Kelo case could have happened in South Carolina. The constitutional amendment fixed that problem and gave the state’s citizens some of the strongest protection in the country from eminent domain abuse, ensuring that so-called blight laws could not be used as a backdoor way of using eminent domain to take homes, businesses, farms, and places of worship for private profit.
A constitutional amendment is unambiguously the most effective way to stop the abuse of eminent domain for private gain, and the passage and approval of this provision should effectively safeguard South Carolinians’ fundamental right to keep what they rightfully own.