House Votes To Curb Supreme’s Land Grab Ruling

    The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives, a frequent critic of the federal judiciary, lashed out at the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday by voting to limit a ruling that curbs property rights.

    On a largely party-line vote of 231-189, the House approved legislation that would ban use of certain federal funds to upgrade private property seized under last week’s Supreme Court ruling.

    The court ruled 5-4 that a city can take a person’s home or business with just compensation for a development project designed to revitalize a depressed local economy.

    “Once again, the highest court in the land has shown its inability to interpret the Constitution and defend the liberties and freedoms our forefathers so desperately envisioned when they established our great nation,” said Republican Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey.

    Garrett was a chief sponsor of the House-passed measure adopted as an amendment to a spending bill for the U.S. departments of Treasury, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

    The amendment would prohibit use of these federal funds to improve or construct infrastructure support on lands seized for private development.

    While many House Democrats opposed the amendment, they joined in approving a nonbinding resolution on Thursday night that expressed “grave disapproval” of the court’s ruling.

    The resolution, passed 365-33, also declared that “state and local governments should only execute the power of eminent domain for purposes that serve the public good.”

    The Supreme Court upheld as constitutional the taking by New London, Connecticut, of 15 properties belonging to nine residents or investment owners for a project to complement a nearby research facility by the Pfizer Inc. drug company.

    The court upheld the plan under the U.S. Constitution, which allows the government to take private property through its eminent domain powers in exchange for just compensation.

    Earlier on Thursday, top House Republicans announced a separate bill against the ruling. A similar measure has been introduced in the Senate and both have bipartisan support.

    The House measure would prevent use of federal funds to take a person’s home or business for an economic development project. It also would prohibit the federal government from using economic development as a reason for exercising its power of eminent domain.

    “What all of us who wish to see this legislation enacted into law want to make sure happens is that the federal government’s money isn’t used to finance taking someone’s property from them to build a strip mall,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican.

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, criticized the effort, saying, “Very central in that Constitution is the separation of powers.”