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Mississippi Voters to Consider New Law Limiting Eminent Domain Authority

Friday, November 4, 2011


When Mississippi voters go to the polls on Tuesday to elect a new governor and legislature, they will also be handed three ballot initiatives, including one that would restrict the state’s ability to expropriate land under eminent domain laws.

Initiative 31 would impose a 10-year waiting period on any eminent domain taking if a private property were to be transferred to another person.

At the heart of this initiative is the 2005 US Supreme Court case Kelo v City of New London. In that case, the justices ruled 5-4 that the state of Connecticut could take the home owned by Suzette Kelo and turn it over to a private developer, who wanted to put up a hotel, condos and a shopping complex.

“We’ve just looked around the country and seen what’s happening in other states and we’re just trying to be proactive,” said Randy Knight, who is leading the charge for passage of 31. “We’re trying to put out the fire before it gets here.”

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  • Obamavitch

    Private property must only be stolen by the government when there is a very clear cut absolute need, such as for a new highway. Otherwise, keep your cotton picking hands off.

    • tod

      If they need the land that bad ,then they can pay twice it’s value so everybody can be happy !

    • John Detwiler

      This is great and I am strongly concidering such an initiative in my state Washington. And I think that those in other states do the same. Only I think the time limit should be indifinate that it could be used against an individual by an individual or entity other than as the Constitution allows eminent Domain to be used. Schools highways or necessary improvement for public access, nothing else.

    • Rev Larry

      absolutely right Eminent domain was never meant to take land from one person and give it to another to enrich them the court that ruled against the people involved should be sent to russian salt mines
      any judge who can not read english and understand and do right is not worthy of his title. yuk.

    • emerutil

      Agreed. The US Supreme Court did Americans a great disservice. Common sense is definitely absent, as well as the sense of what is right, and what is wrong.

    • Darla

      I pay for my property and if anyone thinkis they have the right to take it for ANY reason I’ll shoot them in the head. The government can BUY the land at fair market value if I’m willing to sell.

    • emerutil

      That, and ONLY if you are willing to sell!

    • dizdamduster

      A new road?? Like the NAFTA highway that wiped out ranches in Texas? We dont need freeways the size of football fields just so imported goods can go thru from coast to coast. Eminent domain is an over used, ill conceived theft of property. Socialism run amok.

    • emerutil

      Right, you are. Officials will walk all over us, as they already have for years, if we do not curb their power!

  • Christy

    Hats off to MS for thinking ahead! Thank God for legislators who are acutally doing their job by looking out for the people and doing the right thing. It is imperative that the voters stay on top of this and pass it! Set the example for the rest of the States. Way to go Randy Knight, you the man!

  • Ltjg

    I have always been against Eminent Domain or Government Seizure of Property for any reason. If negotiations to buy the property would break down, that should be the end of it. Not confiscation. Even if it was for a highway. Many existing highways could be lengthened, widened and improved if necessary. An example of this was the Trans Texas Corridor that was finally done away with from the help of the Texas citizens. Land was taken over by eminent domain displacing Farmers and residents that depended on the land to make a living. Some of the land has been in the family for generations past. The corridor ran parallel to Interstate 35 which could have been improved, widened and lengthened. They could have extended another existing highway known as I 69 instead of using eminent domain. None the less, I am not in favor of anyone being forced of giving up their property unwillingly for any reason what so ever.

    • Tessa

      I agree Ltjg, are you from Texas? Are you married? I would like to meet you.

    • American Patriot

      I am totally against usage of eminent domain to transfer ownership of property to another private party. I do understand and support using it, for obtaining property for a valid and demonstrable public need. Of course just and reasonable compensation must be provided. I must admit that my family when I was young had our home taken by eminent domain for a highway project, while it hadn’t been in my family for generations, it was still our home. So I do understand the pain and loss involved, but I also understand the need.
      Ltjg – A few points here, widening and/or lengthening an existing Expressway/Highway/Road will normally require using eminent domain to obtain the required property adjacent to the existing roadway.
      To some of the other respondents on here – Supposed vacant land is usually owned by somebody and normally used in some way by the owner, just because you don’t see a large density of buildings doesn’t mean that it is abandoned! For all intents and purposes every roadway, be it small or massive, was built using eminent domain! The idea of rerouting a highway whenever somebody doesn’t want to sell a parcel, can theoretically require spending a billion dollars to build a 500 mile highway connecting two communities that are 25 miles apart. Also most government buildings and complexes had to invoke eminent domain at some point to have enough contiguous property for the project.

    • American Patriot

      In 2006 the State of Michigan adopted the following provisions for ‘Eminent domain’. I think this was a very positive approach to the subject.

      • prohibits the taking of private property for private economic development, use by a private company, or enhancement of local tax revenues;
      • places the burden of proof on the government to demonstrate that the property will have a public use;
      • restricts the government’s ability to designate property as blighted;
      • requires the government to pay displaced property owners at least 125 percent of the fair market value of property taken by eminent domain for public use;
      • increases the compensation for moving expenses, renters, and legal fees to ensure that low-income families are not harmed;
      • requires timely payment of all compensation.

      Affected property owners do have the chance to challenge in court anything that seems to be deficient before the surrender of the said property.

  • The Enemy

    Good for the citizens of Mississippi! We need more of standing-up to abusive governments across the nation!

    • emerutil

      Amen to that!

  • tod

    May God Bless Mississippi,this country needs more states to do the same!

  • Adrian Vance

    No new law is needed. We only need to honor the Constitution. Why is that such a difficult idea. Read James Bovard’s “Lost Rights” if you want to understand this thoroughly.

    The Two Minute Conservative at has political analysis, science and humor. Now in the top 3% on Kindle.

  • David

    Having had family property condemned, devalued, then taken by the Dept of the Interior without just compensation, land located adjacent to properties known to have oil reserves beneath them, land that has also been taken, one cannot begin to understand how my remaining family feels. Our government is corrupt, the court system is corrupt. Our country continues on that slippery slope into self destruction.
    God help us!

  • Girly Girl

    This sounds more like United Nations Agenda 21 property grabbing. Check out Agenda 21 for Dummies on line. Everyone needs to be aware that the District Attorney and the Sheriffs in your area have jurisdiction over any Federal Agency. Check out your state laws and go talk to your Sheriff.

  • Barbc

    Could this be applied to government directors who ‘swap’ their private property that is not lake shore property with BLM owned lake shore property. A former Secretary of State pulled this off because he by passed the government rules of congressional hearings. He is the only private property on the lake. All the rest of the lake shore is government owned and managed for public use.

    • rder

      Name names, name the man, name the lake, name the state. Don’t give that someone did something without the facts. Please. It’s not that I doubt you, but spewing words with anyone being able to check doesn’t help.

      I am against eminent domain for anything except public safety.

    • Barbc

      Former Governor / Secretary of State Cecil Andrus during Carter’s reign. McCall Lake, Idaho.

  • Walda

    It isn’t right for any form of government to take anyone’s property, period! It doesn’t matter what it is to be used for if taken, land owners should have the right to keep what is theirs without interference by any form of government.

  • Walter D. Shutter, Jr.

    The “taking” clause is found in the 5th amendment and reads as follows: “Nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation”.

    The founders recognized that government must be able, from time to time, to condemn private property for public works. Otherwise, truculent or greedy landowners could easily derail any public project. However, the founders also recognized that corrupt public officials could abuse the process so they added two safeguards:
    1. Just compensation. If you, the landowner, don’t like the government’s offer, you don’t have to take it. Then the government must take the property in a court proceeding. “Just compensation” is defined as whatever amount the court says is just.
    2. Public use. The taking must be for a public use. The Mayor can’t take your land to build himself a Summer home, even if he pays just compensation. That was the issue in the Kelo case. The city wanted to condemn Mrs. Kelo’s land to give it to a developer for a mall or something suchlike. The city figured that a mall would pay more property tax to the city than Mrs. Kelo would. In my humble opinion, Kelo was wrongly decided. I believe the court confused “public use” with “public purpose”. Giving Mrs. Kelo’s land to a private developer for a higher property tax return is a public purpose, but not, I believe,a public use. Public uses are things like dams, bridges, roads, railroads, canals, airports, military installations, government buildings, etc. Malls and housing projects are not. But then, I don’t sit on the Supreme Court.

    • Walda

      Since our entire government is ignoring the rest of the Constitution, it’s reasonable to assume that they will ignore the 5th amendment. We need God’s help, big time!

  • Buck

    Oklahoma is sounding more and more like a bastian of freedom , liberty ,and JUSTICE .

  • am2sweet

    Frankly I would find it hard to come up with any reason for taking someone’s land. Most roads can be widened. There is plenty of government owned land to build more government buildings on. And with there also being plenty of vacent land around I say leave people’s homes alone. From those that have lost theirs through that eminent domain they are paid only a fraction of what their homes are worth. IF they had listed their homes on the market they would have been able to make more. That’s screwing the homeowner twice. Once by taking his home and second by paying less than value.


    Eminent domain should require prior court chalenge anywhere. To many individuals ore cheated by states for useless and costly projects that serve no purpose other than to keep the state or federal employees in a job.
    We have too many highways and not enought money to maintain what we have.
    End the madness

  • emerutil

    Eminent domain is the worst facet of government arrogance. It has a direct impact on the individual. It is the same covetousness as given in the bible by Ahab and Jezebel vs Naboth with his vineyard.

  • stephen russell

    Do this nationwide (save CA, NY) of course who wont go along.

  • kermit dupre

    What needs to be done is hang the next judge that takes private land.

  • skip gainer

    We already have the law in place, it is called the US Constitution. Now if we could only get our politicians to do their jobs and enforce the Constitution!

  • jackson deland


  • headhunter

    no tod, not have to pay 2x what the property is worth, but in addition to market price there should be a reasonable percentage (10% to 20%, non taxable of course),of after developement value that goes to the person who was forced to sell.

  • Pegi

    Good for them!! No one gets the true market value for their home or business when dealing with the goverment. No one should have to move so a commercial venture can be built.

  • emerutil

    Years ago, the city in which I live has added to its charter a provision that no eminent domain law could be used to transfer property from one person or e3ntity to another. One of only a few good laws!