Texas still needs eminent domain reform

IJ’s Director of Strategic Research Dick Carpenter wrote an op-ed for Sunday’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram explaining why Texas no longer should tolerate the abuse of eminent domain:

The city of El Paso is determined to wipe out acres of downtown businesses — including Asian and Jewish merchants — for a fad-driven shopping and entertainment district.

Mere hours after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its infamous Kelo decision allowing eminent domain for private gain under the U.S. Constitution, Freeport officials condemned two successful shrimp companies so that a wealthy developer could build a private marina.

Thanks to vocal beneficiaries of eminent domain abuse, Texas passed only nominal reform, leaving open a loophole large enough to lasso entire neighborhoods with bogus “blight” declarations.

Texas failed to pass good eminent domain reform in 2007. Local officials in the state have, since 2005, argued that prohibiting eminent domain for private economic development in the state would have a negative effect on the state. Unfortunately, that claim doesn’t pan out.