Court Upholds St. LouisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Attempt to Suppress Eminent Domain Protest Mural | Institute for Justice: Litigating for LibertyArlington, Va.—The right of free speech suffered a blow today when a federal court upheld St. Louis’s attempt to suppress activist Jim Roos’s mural protesting the city’s abuse of its eminent domain power.
Thanks to Mystery Reader for this link to the Institute for Justice website (the property rights law firm), where you can read about the battle over Jim Roos's "End Eminent Domain Abuse" mural. The struggle over municipal use of the eminent domain power looks like a lasting issue. There are several areas where property rights activists, and many citizens, want reform.
First, there is the issue of what constitutes a taking. There are what we call "regulatory takings," where the city doesn't actually condemn the land and pay you for it, and instead they just pass regulations that restrict your use of the land so heavily that it loses much of its value, and for all practical purposes the city might just as well have taken it from you--without paying for it.
Second, there is the the Kelo v. City of New London issue: what are the limits of the "public use" condition in the due process clause? The Kelo decision upheld the right to take property from one private party and practically give it to another private party (in that case, Pfizer Corporation) in order to enhance tax revenues and stimulate economic development, even though there was no public use. Most states passed reform legislation to limit that sort of taking, but UIC Political Science graduate student Tom Kelly wrote a dynamite dissertation showing that this legislation has been ineffective (I was on his committee).
Third, what kinds of property interests can be taken? Does it have to be physical property, or can intangible property interests be "taken" and thus require compensation?