In 2005 the Supreme Court sided with the City, in Kelo v. City of New London in allowing the government to seize abandoned, albeit privately owned, properties, under eminent domain, and after paying a minimal but fair price for them, sell them to another private party, a developer, and turn a profit on such a sale. This obviously caused a significant backlash among many in the legislative branch and the populace, since eminent domain exists to further only public good. The property must be taken for public use, and not resold to another private party who may be able to put the property to a better use than the original owner. The Supreme Court held that economic development and increased tax revenues were of sufficient benefit to the public to permit a local government to seize and resell private property.
This week the House of Representatives is expected to pass a bill which is to reverse this decision, as the legislature has a right to do with much of SCOTUS’ jurisprudence, which provides a cause of action to any private party against any state or local government which exercises its eminent domain powers in furtherance of the Supreme Court’s ‘economic development’ reasoning. Whether such a bill will pass the Senate and then be signed by the President is unclear; no statements have come from either side. However, the House bill passed on a bi-partisan platform, and appears to have popular support behind its implementation. 7 years to pass such a bill is far too long imho.