"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Court’s Eminent Domain Ruling Endangers Property Rights

April 1st, 2008 by mopns · No Comments

By Nicholas A. Loyal

For decades, the property rights of Missouri residents have been disregarded as municipalities throughout the state plowed through personal history in the disastrous pursuit of progress. Recently, the state’s highest court had a chance to correct this wrong and restore a sense of safety to the minds of Missouri’s home and business owners. However, the court neglected this opportunity by turning in a terrible decision that served nothing more than the status quo, and acted as reaffirmation of an invasive trend that should worry every property owner.

On March 18, the Missouri Supreme Court handed down a 6-1 decision in favor of “development” trumping property rights in the matter of City of Arnold v. Homer Tourkakis. Dr. Tourkakis, a dentist who has been practicing in Arnold for more than 20 years, was threatened with the loss of his office when the city sought to acquire land through the use of eminent domain for the new Arnold Commons shopping center. Had the city needed to exercise this power for a legitimate public use, Dr. Tourkakis’ might have understood the property invasion. However, the idea of Arnold subverting this constitutional power to forcefully transfer property from one private party to another was enough not only for Tourkakis to reject the city’s offer, but to seek relief from the highest court in the state.

Arnold v. Tourkakis was a rare opportunity for Missouri to protect the individual rights of citizens, and emphatically stamp out an unjust abuse of municipal power. The court could have reassured citizens that the homes they worked to build would always be their castles, and that the businesses they labored to run would be free from unjust interference.

Instead, the court found in favor of the city — and watched that chance sail by. Read more…

Nicholas A. Loyal is an intern at the Show-Me Institute, a Missouribased think tank. He will begin a graduate program at the University of Missouri School of Law this fall.

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Tags: Eminent Domain · Show Me Institute

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