The Eminent Domain Law is basically defined as the imposition of the power possessed by the state to appropriate private property and to renovate or reconstruct the property for public use. 1 It varies in different jurisdictions. The land that will be taken due to the eminent domain law is called condemnation proceedings. There is a process in seizing a property. First, the government will try to negotiate with the owner and offer an amount or a thing of equal value to compensate the loss of the property.
Second, if the owner opts not to let go of his property, the state would exercise its power by imposing the eminent law and appeal to the court. Third, a hearing would be scheduled and argue with the fact that they have negotiated to purchase the land, and the owner would be casted upon with non-compliance with the government’s request. Lastly, if both sides were not satisfied then they can appeal to the court. 2 This is a vicious cycle that breaches the law of private property and also in some way steps on human rights.
Though it is legally and constitutionally correct, there are negative implications attached to the undertakings of this law. Here are evidences which prove that the eminent law is applied. In Texas, a debate sprouted because of the undefined limitations of the eminent domain law. Frank Corte represented the state of San Antonio to justify that eminent law is simply taking of private property and made in accessible and useful for the public. Basically, he is talking of economic development.
A counter –argument was fueled by Kyle Janek, who represents Houston, that there should be technical discourses about the amendments of the bill and to specify clearly what is “public use”. Janek’s claim is that there are always hidden motives with the eminent domain law. Another perspective was introduced when John Whitmire of Houston, said that “is economic development really the public’s interest? ” It was brought about the effects of this law and enumerated some of its negative implications such as threatening of job creation, urban renewal, and state revenue resources.
Based on what Whitmire has stimulated, Tommy Williams of The Woodlands claimed that the eminent law only made the other entities or such economically-driven officials to condemn private properties that would serve their purpose well. In the end of the debate, Kyle Janek’s suggestion of further supplying the reasons for condemnation has been implemented. In Texas law, it is stated that the government can seize private property only for economic purposes and especially for public use.
Jeff Coyle attacked the eminent law and said “why would Governor Perry sign a bill with loopholes in it? Coyle thought that the loopholes would best serve the private interest of those who seize properties. In this scenario, Coyle is defending the rights of privately owned properties and its condemnation with the use of the eminent law. He implies that the eminent law has a self-serving bias for the politician who suddenly seizes the property. Eminent law is for economic development but also abstraction since it problematize on how can the people protect their own property though it is for public use.
This was from the Texas Senate News and basically claims like the first other debates, the definition of “what is public use”. Bill Peacock of the Texas Public Policy Foundation stressed that the transfer of a private ownership to one another using the eminent law must be forbidden. Peacock also stressed that the court is too liberal in interpreting what is for public use and not. Basically, the eminent law has not been limited to any private property and all that is said to be needed for public use can be seized by the government.
The origin of Peacock’s arguments came from Jenifer Zeigler who is an attorney in the Institute for Justice and claims in her proposed Senate bill 7 that the “public use” should be clearly defined and all of the transactions and negotiations should be done constitutionally. In the end of it, Attorney Joe Doegey made the closing remarks and defended the government that the eminent law enforcement was critically thought of and that all the properties that have been claimed were all constituted for public use.
The committee then decided for adjourning the meeting and the case can be subjected in future meetings to come. This was what transpired in the meeting of the Joint Committee to Study the Power of Eminent Domain in 2005. In defense of the Eminent Law, Michael Allan Wolf, a professor in the University of Richmond which focuses on property law, states that the eminent law is good for the people since it promotes to claim private properties into public use. He had given examples such as railways and assembly lines.
In the creation of railways, it made some parts of the state more accessible. Trading and other business transactions were a lot easier. With the birth of the assembly lines, people near the area are most likely of getting employed. With this positive note, he even claimed that the eminent domain is the “engine of public progress” since the people is making good use of the seized facilities.
In summary, there is no clear limitation for the eminent domain law. Even if there many revisions or suggestion to make the law better, the economically-driven politicians will always find a way to exploit this law. Abuse of the law is what occurs in this point. There are no restrictions for the one who holds the power and can claim the properties that he may wish. The eminent domain law is powerful and useful but at the same time, it as like a double-edged sword that the people adhere to.
There are act of the government and other institution to revise this law in protection the properties of the public and also to sustain the people’s rights. Much justified, the eminent domain law is being abused by the ones who are in the position. It is up to us the people who should know about the law and better yet our rights. The eminent domain law is made not to seize property irrationally but a condemnation for economic development. It is a law since it is very powerful yet it is just like a policy since it has many loopholes in it.