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The Fifth Amendment Makes a Comeback

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Even the New York Times is obliged to note widespread support for the idea that eminent domain abuse violates the American consesus on property rights:

In a rare display of unanimity that cuts across partisan and geographic lines, lawmakers in virtually every statehouse across the country are advancing bills and constitutional amendments to limit use of the government’s power of eminent domain to seize private property for economic development purposes.

This movement is bad news for environmental activists who have been abusing the Endangered Speicies Act since the early ’90s to effect Kelos in camouflage by pushing “habitat conservation plans” that classify massive swaths of private property as “preserves,” thus drastically limiting the future uses of the property and doing so without any offer of compensation.

Because the HCP process is obscure and little or no noitce of it provided to landowners, the reaction to the plans is often muted. But the opposition to Kelo shows that the ESA-driven abuse of property rights will eventually be curtailed, if not by legislatures, then by initiatives and courts.


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