NFIB Legal Continues Fight Against Eminent Domain Abuse in America

The NFIB Legal Center has taken-up the fight to curb eminent domain abuse in America. You may recall that last year we asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider Kelo v. New London. Unfortunately, the Court balked. So our fight against eminent domain abuse continues.

Recently we joined with Pacific Legal Foundation, the Institute for Justice and George Mason Law School Professor Ilya Somin in asking the New Jersey Supreme Court to enforce constitutional limitations on the exercise of eminent domain.

 One of the key issues in eminent domain cases is the question of when a property may be designated as “blighted.” This is because most states require a “blight” designation before private property may be taken through eminent domain. In New Jersey, such a finding is constitutionally required. And, a few months ago, a New Jersey Court of Appeal handed down a very good opinion rejecting a municipality’s argument that courts should blindly defer to the City’s bare assertions that a targeted property (a commercial parking lot) was blighted.

 Instead the court held that the municipality bears the burden to satisfy a “heightened standard” for finding a property to be blighted. In other words the court refused to rubber-stamp the city’s blight designation, and imposed the burden on the City to support a blight designation with “more than a bland recitation of applicable statutory criteria and a declaration that those are met.”

Now the City has asked the New Jersey Supreme Court to reverse the decision—a result that would enable City’s to essentially label almost any conceivable property as “blighted” without any real judicial review. Accordingly, we filed an amicus arguing that the Constitution requires the City to prove that a condemned property is actually blighted. It is not enough for the City to simply declare your property blights because—if that was the case—the blight requirement would be entirely meaningless.

 For more commentary, check out Jonathan Wood’s posting on the PLF Liberty Blog.

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About Luke Wake

Luke A. Wake is a staff attorney at the NFIB Small Business Legal Center. Wake has particular expertise on environmental and land use issues, and has worked on numerous other constitutional issues and matters of importance to small business owners. He is an ardent defender of private property rights, which he believes are essential to the free enterprise system and the foundation of American liberty. As a strong advocate of individual rights and economic liberties, he has built his career defending small business interests. Since joining the NFIB Legal Center, Wake has focused on a whole host of issues, from employment law matters to regulatory compliance. In addition to serving as a resource for small business owners, Wake remains committed to the Legal Center’s pledge to ensure that the voice of small business is heard in the nation’s courts. As an appellate practitioner, Wake has focused particularly on informing the courts on matters of administrative law and on issues under the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause. He is also working to advance small business interests in law review articles, and was recently published in the Berkeley Journal of Law & Ecology. See R.S. Radford & Luke A. Wake, Deciphering and Extrapolating: Searching for Sense in Penn Central, 38 Ecology L.Q. 731, 746-747 (2011). Before joining the Legal Center’s team, Wake completed a prestigious two-year fellowship as an attorney in the Pacific Legal Foundation’s (PLF) College of Public Interest Law. Wake is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland Ohio, and is a member of the California Bar. He completed his undergraduate studies at Elon University in North Carolina in 2006 where he focused on political theory and corporate communications.
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One Response to NFIB Legal Continues Fight Against Eminent Domain Abuse in America

  1. Pingback: The Right to Full and Fair Compensation: Making Sure Small Business Gets a Fair-Shake |

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