ON-Lion Letter
Fifty-eight percent of those targeted by local municipalities' exercises of their eminent-domain power were minorities, compared to only 45% of people in surrounding neighborhoods that were not similarly targeted, a new systematic analysis of U.S. Census data to determine the profile of those affected by uses of the power in 184 selected projects across the country has found.

Those targeted by eminent domain also had a median annual income of less than $19,000, compared to $23,000 in the surrounding neighborhoods, according to Victimizing the Vulnerable:  The Demographics of Eminent Domain Abuse by Dick M. Carpenter II and John K. Ross for the Institute for Justice (IJ) in Arlington, Va.  Carpenter is IJ's director of strategic research.

Plus, greater percentages of those living in targeted areas have less than a high-school diploma and smaller percentages have various levels of college education compared to surrounding communities.

In its infamous Kelo v. City of New London decision two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court held that governments can use their powers of eminent domain to condemn homes and businesses and transfer ownership in them to other private owners as long as they think the new owners will produce more money with their usage of the property.

"Eminent domain abuse is essentially Robin Hood in reverse:  taking from the poor to give to wealthy, politically connected developers," Carpenter noted.

"The only real solution is ending eminent domain for private development," said Chip Mellor, IJ's president and general counsel.  "Those with the least means most need robust protection of constitutional rights."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports IJ, which argued the Kelo case before the Court.
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