by Locker Room contributor
Here’s a good summary of key findings in the Ohio Supreme Court ruling overturning eminent domain abuse.
As Daren has explained in his extensive writing on the topic, vague laws open the door to abuse. Norwood, Ohio, used the flimsiest of pretexts to seize property for a $125 million redevelopment project.
The local government argued that seized properties were “deteriorating.”
“We find that Norwood’s use of ‘deteriorating area’ as a standard for appropriation is void for vagueness,” wrote Justice [Maureen] O’Connor. “We further hold that the use of the term ‘deteriorating area’ as a standard for a taking is unconstitutional because the term inherently incorporates speculation as to the future condition of the property to be appropriated rather than the condition of the property at the time of the taking.”
In plain English, that means Norwood grossly abused its authority. The mere possibility–or even probability–that an area may one day be blighted can hardly pass muster as legitimate grounds for property seizures. Indeed, by the yardsticks employed in Norwood–cracked sidewalks, light pollution, proximity to the highway, weeds, dead-end streets, and “diversity of ownership”–large bits of middle-class, suburban America are “deteriorating.”
Middle-class, suburban America needs to pay attention to this ongoing debate.