Sensenbrenner Calls on House to Pass Private Property Rights Protection Act

Sensenbrenner Calls on House to Pass Private Property Rights Protection Act


Mr. Speaker,
I am pleased that the House is considering H.R. 1689, the Private Property Rights Protection
Act. My bill aims to restore the property rights
of all Americans that the Supreme Court took away in 2005. The Founders of our country recognized the
importance of an individual’s right to personal property when they drafted the Constitution. The Fifth Amendment states “nor shall private
property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” In Kelo v. the City of New London, the Supreme
Court decided that “economic development” could be a “public use” under the Fifth
Amendment’s Takings Clause. In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that the
government could take private property from an owner, in this case Susette Kelo, to help
a corporation or private developer, in this case Pfizer. The now infamous Kelo decision created a massive
backlash. As former Justice O’Connor stated, “The
government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with
more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse
result.” Even in the 13 years since Kelo, polls show
that Americans overwhelmingly oppose property being taken and transferred to another private
owner, even if it is for the public economic good. The Private Property Rights Protection Act
is needed to restore to all Americans the property rights the Supreme Court invalidated. Although several states have since passed
legislation to limit their power to eminent domain, and a number of supreme courts have
barred the practice under their state constitutions, these laws exist on a varying degree. H.R. 1689 would prohibit state and local governments
that receive federal economic development funds from using economic development as a
justification for taking property from one person and giving to another private entity. Any state or local government that violates
this prohibition will be ineligible to receive federal economic development funds for two
years. The protection of property rights is one of
the most important tenets of our government. I am mindful of the long history of eminent
domain abuses, particularly in low-income and often predominantly minority neighborhoods,
and the need to stop it. I am also mindful of the reasons we should
allow the government to take the lead when the way in which the land is being used constitutes
an immediate threat to public health and safety. I believe this bill accomplishes both goals. I urge my colleagues to join me in protecting
private property rights for all Americans and limiting the dangerous effects of the
Kelo decision on the most vulnerable in society. I reserve the balance of my time.

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