Supreme Court Rules Private Land Can be Seized for Private Use

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling today gives local governments more authority to seize homes and businesses for economic development. The ruling expands the definition of public use, that is, the reasons why private property can be seized.

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Fulbright and Jarworski Partner Steve Carroll says the ruling makes it okay for the first time in this country to condemn private land for private use.

The ruling does not affect just or adequate compensation in eminent domain proceedings, homeowners will still be paid for their property. Still, Historic Houston Founder Lynn Edmundson is disturbed by the decision.

Private interests wishing to expand will still have to work through local governments for the eminent domain procedings. Houston Mayor Bill White issued a written statement in response to the ruling.

The city does support the idea of using imminent domain to fight blight. States do still have the authority to pass their own guidelines. So in response, state Representative Frank Corte, of San Antonio, says he intends to file a state constitutional amendment during the special session that is underway now in Austin. He thinks the Supreme Court ruling has gone too far against property owners' rights.

The legislation is being drafted, but the governor will have the final say on whether law makers can consider it during the special session.

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