Sweet Home

Although I moved away a decade ago, I was born and raised in Alabama. My family (on both sides) has lived there for many generations. Even so, I honestly can’t think of a single time when I could say that I was proud of the state’s government and/or elected officials.

Until now.

Alabama yesterday became the first state to enact new protections against local-government seizure of property allowed under a Supreme Court ruling that has triggered an explosive grass-roots counteroffensive across the country.

Republican Gov. Bob Riley signed a bill that was passed unanimously by a special session of the Alabama Legislature, which would prohibit governments from using their eminent-domain authority to take privately owned properties for the purpose of turning them over to retail, industrial, office or residential developers.

Calling the high court’s June 23 ruling “misguided” and a “threat to all property owners,” Mr. Riley said, “A property rights revolt is sweeping the nation, and Alabama is leading it.”

Bravo, ladies and gentlemen.

Show that much good sense with the rest of your work, and there’ll be a lot fewer wisecracks about our home state. I quite literally have never been prouder of you.

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20 Responses to “Sweet Home”

  1. Michael Brennan Says:

    Is this for real? Wow! I have to give credit to Alabama, too. Whodathunkit?

  2. Garrett Says:

    Nice going ‘Bama.

  3. byrd Says:

    And unanimous at that. Well done!

  4. Chuck Says:

    Ironically, the “bad” decision by the SCOTUS is having a good effect. Elected officials in the states are codifying what the SCOTUS said was theirs to codify.

    People who want states to be able to take private property for commerical development can elect officials to pass such laws in their states. And vice versa.

    Isn’t this the argument from the libertarian right about abortion? Leave it to the states?

    Sure looks like a far-too-seldom-seen bad decision really being a good one.

  5. WitNit Says:

    My mom was born in Birmingham, so I have a connection as well. Let’s hope this act spreads geometrically.

  6. denise Says:

    Didn’t the Ala. legislature hear that Kelo was as if God had spoken?

    I’m very pleased about this, not least because it reaffirms my position that Kelo was not so bad because we could have more faith generally in our state and local elected officials than many were giving them credit for.

  7. ed Says:

    Sheee-it, and howdy, boy!
    Most excellent! I will see if might get something going here in Colorado.

    Ed

  8. richard mcenroe Says:

    Shortly after the press conference, the State House was bulldozed for a WalMart/condo complex…

  9. sam Says:

    I’m confused a bit. Isn’t this law already unconstitutional since the US Supreme Court has already ruled on Kelo?

  10. Jon G Says:

    As a fellow Alabama boy now living in Atlanta (Woodstock), I have to say I agree with your assessment and praise.

    Way to go Bama.

    Jon
    War Eagle

  11. Jon G Says:

    Sam, my understanding is that the Kelo ruling basically tossed the decision on when and how to take proprerty back to the states and local jurisdictions. It doesn’t prevent a state or local jurisdiction from passing a more restrictive rule for eminient domain. It only said that the constitution won’t prevent a taking in the absence of a more restrictive law.

    Jon

  12. rosignol Says:

    I’m confused a bit. Isn’t this law already unconstitutional since the US Supreme Court has already ruled on Kelo?

    Jon G is right- the USSC said standing law didn’t forbid a government from siezing land for economic development, not that State governments couldn’t ban the practice.

    Which various state governments are now doing. Kudos to Alabama for being the first.

  13. Matt Says:

    sam: No. Kelo gives states the authority to do New London-esque evil…it does not _compel_ them to do so. If they _choose_ to enact laws against it, Kelo doesn’t stand in their way.

    It’s worth noting that Alabama may be the first state where such a law has gone all the way through the process, but there are a handful of others with equivalent bills working their way through the legislature as we write.

    Kelo may have been a legal disaster, but it was apparent from practically the moment it was announced that the ruling would turn out to be a PR victory for the good guys.

  14. Chuck Says:

    “Kelo may have been a legal disaster”

    But, isn’t the fact that states are now considering/passing laws to codify their emminent domain laws suggest taht Kelo was not a disaster at all?

  15. Bildo Says:

    Chuck,

    Not all states are doing it.

    San Diego is now in the process of condemning Little Italy so that a private developer can build townhomes and retail.

    Arlington, TX has sped up their condemnation of private property for the new Cowboys stadium since the Kelo ruling.

    There are many other instances where the legislatures aren’t moving fast enough to prevent these takings.

  16. Aubrey Turner Says:

    Not only is Arlington, TX speeding up their condemnations, they just announced they’re going after more properties than they originally said they would.

    The Texas legislature is now in the midst of a second special session to deal with school finance (which isn’t going anywhere). They tried to get an eminent domain restriction bill passed in the first special session, with no luck. It looks like they’re trying for a constitutional amendment now.

    Anyhow, I thought it interesting that there was some rather heated debate about amendments that would protect Arlington’s land grab on behalf of the Cowboys. So it would appear that no matter what happens with a bill or amendment, the people in Arlington are screwed.

  17. Chuck Says:

    “not all states are doing it”

    Isn’t that a “so what” point? Isn’t the idea that some states will have certain sets of rules, others won’t. If the citizens don’t like it, they can vote out their representatives.

    That’s always been the libertarian view against Roe v. Wade (at least, as my limited intellect understands it).

    Some states will have abortion, others won’t. Some states take land for development, some won’t.

    Where’s the problem?

    Kelo sounded like an attrocious ruling to me. The reality is shaping up differently.

  18. Shelby Says:

    Chuck,

    Kelo’s a terrible decision because the Supremes punted on plain language in the Constitution (as amended). It’s like saying “soldiers” in the Third Amendment has no relation to the modern military, because our army is unlike the founders’ army, so you have to put them up in your house.

    Sure, individual states can give effect to the principle the Fifth Amendment was supposed to establish. But they shouldn’t have to, and we shouldn’t have to rely on them to do so. And not all of them will, so a great deal of private property will be seized.

  19. Billy Hollis Says:

    Well, this at least balances the stupid ban they passed down there on sex toys.

    So now in Alabama, your house is safe from WalMart, but don’t get any kinky ideas about what you do in it.

  20. Drew Johnson Says:

    We need this NOW in Kentucky! State’s rights (and by that I mean the citizens, not the lobbyists and politicians) need to be exerted immediately to counteract such an assinine reading by the SCOTUS of a rather obvious amendment!

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