Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Blog 2

Brooke Henes

Fin. 180 MW 2-3:15

Professor Hansz

Eminent Domain

Imagine you are sitting at home 30 years from now and there is a knock at the door. It is the government asking you to leave because they want to build a public school or have a highway pass right through your property. You think to yourself, “can they really do this? We raised our children and were going to grow old together here.” Yes, this is legal. It is called Eminent Domain. The legal definition of eminent domain states that federal, state, and local governments have the power to take private property for public use by a state, municipality, or private person or corporation authorized to exercise functions of public character, following the payment of just compensation to the owner of that property. Just because the government is powerful I don’t believe they should be able to walk all over people demanding their land. We all work hard to fulfill life dreams and for many of us it is owning our own home and maybe eventually pass that home down to our children. I believe that eminent domain is unethical and just plain wrong!

In some cities across America the government is taking advantage of eminent domain by taking private single family homes and turning them into expensive condominiums. This just doesn’t seem right. This is however the case in Lakewood, Ohio for Jim and Joanne Saleet. They refused to sell their home in 2004. They were not the only one’s Lakewood’s mayor, Madeleine Cain, tried to get rid of, there were 55 other homes in the neighborhood. “‘This is about Lakewood's future. Lakewood cannot survive without a strengthened tax base. Is it right to consider this a public good? Absolutely,’ says the mayor, who admits that it's difficult and unfortunate that the Saleets are being asked to give up their home.


Because of what the Ohio government was trying to do to too many people, somebody finally stood up on behalf of all residents and in 2006, the Ohio Supreme Court held a trial, Norwood, Ohio v. Horney, which would reframe the standards for the exercise of eminent domain powers in Ohio. The court ruled in favor of Joe Horney, which said that the state of Ohio could not take property to solely achieve economic benefits.

The court released the key holding of the Horney decision and stated the following:

“It is unconstitutional to take property through the exercise of eminent domain to obtain a financial or economic benefit alone. Thus, taking property solely for economic development purposes does not satisfy the public-use requirements of Section 19, Article 1 of the Ohio Constitution. This decision sets Ohio apart from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo which ruled that under the U.S. Constitution economic development is a valid public purpose for which private property can be taken.”

Another con to eminent domain is the just compensation that the government is going to pay you. Who are they to put a price on your child’s first steps or first words, or throwing the ball around with your dad, or taking pictures of your daughter and her date on their way out the door for their first dance. These are memories that you can’t get back with let’s say $100,000. Even if the homeowner did want to sell, they could get way more for the house if they sold it in a private sale. Either way it is not fair to you!


I am glad that the people of Ohio finally stood up to the government and agreed that what they were doing was wrong. We all deserve that American Dream and the government shouldn’t be able to rip it away just for their own economic benefits.




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