The Ohio Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Wednesday that a Cincinnati suburb cannot take private property by eminent domain for a $125 million project of offices, shops and restaurants.
The case was the first challenge of property rights laws to reach a state high court since the U.S. Supreme Court last summer allowed municipalities to seize homes for use by a private developer.
The case involves the city of Norwood, which used its power of eminent domain to seize properties holding out against private development in an area considered to be deteriorating.
The court found that economic development isn't a sufficient reason under the state constitution to justify taking homes.
In the ruling, Justice Maureen O'Connor said cities may consider economic benefits but that courts deciding such cases in the future must "apply heightened scrutiny" to assure private citizens' property rights.
Targeting property because it is in a deteriorating area also is unconstitutional because the term is too vague and requires speculation, the court found.
Defenders of freedom should not rest and the General Assembly should be pressured to pass legislation which ensures that "public use" in Ohio is interpreted in the conservative fashion. In other words: the Constitution means what it says. If you will remember, liberal justices on the Supreme Court of the United States ruled back in June of 2005 that the government had the constitutional power to take your land without your permission and give it to large corporations.
While not a total victory in that the decision allows the government to "consider economic benefits," truth, justice and the American way seldom seem to win out anymore and I am extremely happy with this decision.
I just feel bad for Ohio's Democrats. How are they supposed to get corporate campaign contributions if they can't steal our property?