This type of strange bedfellows reaction has spurred a new coalition of groups fighting eminent domain abuse in the wake of Kelo. The NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the National Council of Churches have joined with the Institute for Justice (which represented plaintiffs in the original Kelo case), the Farm Bureau and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, among others, to form the Castle Coalition, a grass-roots organization that hopes to stop eminent domain abuses in local communities.
Some 43 state legislatures have passed or will soon consider eminent domain reform, including Alabama and Texas, which specifically limited the kind of development scheme allowed by Kelo. Even Justice Stevens, who wrote the majority opinion, said shortly after the decision that he thinks exercising eminent domain merely for economic development is bad public policy and hopes legislatures will find a political solution. "My own view is that the free play of market forces is more likely to produce acceptable results in the long run than the best-intentioned plans of public officials," he said, noting that if he had been a legislator instead of a justice, he would have opposed what the city did in the Kelo case.
Unlike some Supreme Court decisions, the worst effects of Kelo can be limited if the citizenry acts. Unless states move quickly to stop the misuse of eminent domain, no one's home, farm or business will be safe from greedy government officials and big developers looking to make a killing at ordinary citizens' expense.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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