Commentary on Alabama Law and Society

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Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I Have Explained

Why I am not ready to jump on the get-rid-of-eminent-domain bandwagon. This story is another illustration.

Basically, Selfish Property Owner's house burns down, and he leaves it in its burned and dilapidated condition, complete with trash thrown throughout the yard. After almost a year's time, and several requests from Local Authorities, the mess remains. Neighbors are upset and concerned about the quality of their neighborhood. They complain. So Local Authorities finally tell Selfish Property Owner to clean it up, or else they will and then put a lien on the property for the costs of the work. Selfish Property Owner tries to blame the delay on his insurance company and says "This is a government scam . . . and I am sick of government messing people over."

When I talk about misuses of eminent domain, I mean Kelo. Though not, strictly speaking, using eminent domain I see nothing wrong with Local Authorities' actions in this story. I think we would all lose if preventing future Keloes meant empowering guys like Selfish Property Owner.