REALTORS® Back State Efforts to Curtail Eminent Domain Ruling SAN FRANCISCO (October 28, 2005) – Realtors® support state efforts to curtail the recent Supreme Court Kelo v. City of New Londondecision that allows local governments to seize private property in the name of enlarging their tax base and promoting economic development. The recent eminent domain ruling was the topic of a forum on land use, property rights and environment at the 2005 REALTORS® Conference & Expo, Oct. 28-31. Realtors® feel that matters concerning land use, economic development and blight are issues better handled at the local and state level. A recent member survey underscores their opinion that state and local governments are best positioned to render decisions regarding eminent domain. Almost 70 percent of Realtors said each state should have the power to make its own laws about eminent domain, while close to 30 percent said the Congress should establish standards for the proper use of eminent domain, according to a recent member survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies.In fully half the states, a taking such as the one that occurred in New London would not have been legal due to restrictions in the state constitution, statutes or case law. In the wake of Kelo, several states have already amended their laws to further restrict the use of eminent domain, and many other state legislatures are preparing to act next session to toughen their eminent domain laws. The National Association of Realtors® applauds these efforts and encourages state Realtor associations to work with legislatures to craft reasonable reforms.“Protecting the right of citizens to be secure in their ownership of property is a core value of Realtors. Private property rights are the cornerstone of the real estate industry and a key principle of the social contract upon which our democratic system of government relies for legitimacy. Any erosion of private property rights is cause for serious alarm,” said NAR President Al Mansell of Salt Lake City.Realtors® were surprised that the Supreme Court decided to side with local governments in Kelo v. City of New London. NAR filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the court to apply a higher level of scrutiny and insist that the government provide persuasive and objective evidence to justify its use of eminent domain in cases where property is not taken for public ownership and use.The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
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