About the Author
Opinion Archives
E-mail Scott
Scott's Links

Alabama leads; Indiana should follow

By Scott Tibbs, August 8, 2005

This article in the Washington Times gives hope in the face of an unjust decision by five people in black robes who think they, not the Constitution, are the supreme law of the land.

Alabama yesterday became the first state to enact new protections against local-government seizure of property allowed under a Supreme Court ruling that has triggered an explosive grass-roots counteroffensive across the country.

Republican Gov. Bob Riley signed a bill that was passed unanimously by a special session of the Alabama Legislature, which would prohibit governments from using their eminent-domain authority to take privately owned properties for the purpose of turning them over to retail, industrial, office or residential developers.

Calling the high court's June 23 ruling "misguided" and a "threat to all property owners," Mr. Riley said, "A property rights revolt is sweeping the nation, and Alabama is leading it."

I said last week that this decision makes local elections more important than ever. Where do the seven members of the County Council, the nine members of the City Council, the three County Commissioners and the Mayor stand on using eminent domain to give one person's private property to another for "economic development"?

While I am not a fan of eminent domain, I understand the need to use it for true public works projects like Interstate 69. Using eminent domain to enrich private developers, though, is an unconsionable perversion of the Fifth Amendment. That is something the men who founded this country would never have envisioned.

Now, state legislatures are stepping up to the plate. It is significant that the Alabama law passed without one single dissenting vote. That shows how outraged people are about the Supreme Court's decision, and how that outrage trancends ideological boundries. The Washington Times reports that legislatures in "California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas" are all considering limitations on eminent domain. Will the Indiana Legislature be next?

----Original Message Follows----
From: Scott Tibbs <tibbs1973@yahoo.com>
To: R88@IN.gov, R23@IN.gov, R29@IN.gov, R93@IN.gov, R32@IN.gov, R06@IN.gov, R74@IN.gov, R42@IN.gov, S47@IN.gov, S23@IN.gov, S41@IN.gov, S16@IN.gov, S31@IN.gov
CC: R60@IN.gov, R61@IN.gov, S40@IN.gov, S44@IN.gov
Subject: The State Legislature must protect freedom
Date: Sun, 7 Aug 2005 07:55:09 -0700 (PDT)

To the House and Senate leadership,

I wanted to share this article with you from the Washington Times. The Alabama legislature passed (by an overwhelming margin) strict limits on eminent domain in the wake of the Supreme Court's unjust and un-American decision on property rights.

Hoosiers must be protected in the event that unethical local officials choose to abuse eminent domain to enrich private developers at the expense of private property rights. Since the Supreme Court has refused to protect our God-given rights, the Indiana Legislature needs to step up.

I strongly urge you to follow Alabama's lead and take advantage of the Court's cowardly decision to pass the buck back to state legislatures. The fact that the Alabama law passed without a single dissenting vote shows that this is an issue that transcends ideological boundaries. Five "justices" on the Supreme Court have proven to be "uniters, not dividers" in that they have united liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats against those who would abuse eminent domain.

The 2006 elections are right around the corner. There is no better way to show the voters of your district that you deserve to go back to Indianapolis for another term than to stand up for their rights.

Scott Tibbs