Eminent Domain in Missouri:

Timothy Lee of the libertarian Show Me Institute think thank has written a compelling report on eminent domain abuse in Missouri. Lee notes that Missouri is one of a large number of states that passed ineffective "reform" laws in the wake of the Supreme Court's 2005 Kelo decision. As I discuss in this paper, the Missouri law is one of many that forbids the condemnation of private property in order to promote "economic development," but allows the same practice to continue under other names. In Missouri's case, this was accomplished by allowing the condemnation of "blighted" property under rules that permit virtually any area to be declared blighted if the local or state government want to get hold of the property.

I was also happy to see that Lee's report includes a discussion of the problems caused by blight condemnations in "truly" blighted areas; such takings are often used to displace poor residents in order to transfer the property to politically powerful interest groups. This issue has not gotten enough public attention in the post-Kelo debate over eminent domain. For my own thoughts on it, see my August 2006 article on the subject in the Legal Times, and the last section of my more detailed academic article on the post-Kelo debate over eminent domain.

UPDATE: Tim Sandefur of the Pacific Legal Foundation also has some thoughts on the Lee study and Missouri eminent domain. I do disagree somewhat with Tim's statement that Missouri "probably has the worst laws on eminent domain in the country." There are many worthy contenders for this dubious honor. But my personal nominee would be New York - the state where, among many other abuses, property in Times Square could be condemned as blighted (see my Legal Times article linked above).