Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

June 23, 2007

The Victims Of Kelo

by Doug Mataconis

Turns out, it’s the poor who are hurt the most by eminent domain abuse:

According to the data, those who live under the threat of eminent domain consistently live on significantly fewer earnings, with a median income of less than $19,000, compared to more than $23,000 in nearby neighborhoods. Twenty-five percent live at or below poverty, compared to only 16 percent in surrounding communities.

Those under eminent domain’s threat have completed less education and are more likely to be racial or ethnic minorities — some 58 percent of the population in threatened areas, compared to only 45 percent outside of project areas. All of these results were “statistically significant,” meaning the outcomes weren’t merely the result of chance; they can be considered representative of the overall population studied, that is, residents targeted by eminent domain.

This analysis — consisting of 184 neighborhoods ranging from small towns to large cities across the nation — vindicates the dire warnings of Justices O’Connor and Thomas. Although the data do not show that local officials and developers target specific areas because residents are lower-income, minority or less-educated, the fact remains that the awesome power of eminent domain is disproportionately trained on them. As Justice O’Connor wrote, “The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result.”

And yet here we have it.

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  • http://hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    WOW! What a surprise.
    Recent analysis? Anyone could have gone back fifty years or more and saw the same things; the way it was decided where highways went or how land grant colleges expanded. The Urban Renewal projects just meant urban gentrification.

  • tarran

    Eminent domain has historically been used by the powerful against the weak.

    Uppity in Central Park

    The exhibit book informs us that, by the early 1850s, many whites in New York City became concerned with how well Seneca Village was doing. “That the Village occupied land that was increasingly valuable as the settlement of Manhattan marched north was not lost on them.” The Democratic Mayor of New York City, Fernando Wood, employed the powers of eminent domain, in 1855, to remove these black property owners and create a city park.

    For two years, the Villagers resisted the city’s orders to leave, as well as the efforts of the police who had been directed to remove them. In the words of one New York newspaper, “[t]he policemen find it difficult to persuade them out of the idea which has possessed their simple minds, that the sole object of the authorities in making the Park is to procure their expulsion from the homes which they occupy.” Seneca Village was thus destroyed and, in the words of another newspaper “the supremacy of the law was upheld by the policemen’s bludgeons.” Some 1,600 persons – who had the audacity to believe that they were entitled to live as free men and women in a city that had earlier enslaved them – were forcibly evicted from their homes. The lands were then cleared to become a part of Central Park.

  • John Seravalli

    We all know that it is true that eminent domain primarily abuses the poor and minorities. Maxine Waters (D CA) correctly calls eminent domain “Negro Removal”. The question is why the Democrats who now control both the US House & Senate stubbornly refuse to pass HR 926, STOPP Act of 2007, Strengthening the Ownership of Private Property Act of 2007? We know why President Bush and Republicans Senators Specter & Frist refused to pass two good eminent domain bills (HR 4128 & S 3873) in 2006. It is because the Republicans are owned by special interests (developers). Could it be that the Democrats are also owned by the fat cat developers?

  • js290

    Yet there are people out there who advocate for more government that plagues the poor. Then there are those who advocate for more government to help the wealthy because that would somehow also benefit the poor. The poor are fucked either way.

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