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Voters Nationwide Demand Respect for Private Property Rights.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Voters in nine states spoke with a single voice on Tuesday, demanding that bureaucrats respect their private property rights and stop abusing eminent domain. "This is an amazing day," said Pacific Legal Foundation Staff Attorney Timothy Sandefur. "Americans are demanding protection from eminent domain, and insisting that the bureaucrats respect their property rights."

In what is widely seen as a reaction against the Supreme Court's notorious Kelo decision, ballot initiatives in Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, and South Carolina passed overwhelmingly, creating powerful new limits on government's power to seize private property and transfer it to private developers. The reforms that passed on Tuesday received a landslide national average of 75 percent "Yes" votes.

Probably the strongest reform enacted on Tuesday was Florida's Amendment 8. Along with prohibiting eminent domain for private development, the Florida initiative forbids government from taking property for purposes of eliminating "blight." This restriction is important, Sandefur explains, because the legal definition of "blight" is often so ambiguous that officials can use the label to take whatever land they want. "Florida has chosen a clear course of respecting people's right to keep and use the land that they have honestly bought and paid for," Sandefur added. Pacific Legal Foundation is currently spearheading a lawsuit against Riviera Beach, Florida, which is seeking to condemn more than 400 acres of privately owned land for private development.

Initiatives in Idaho, California, and Washington failed to pass. "The initiatives proposed in those states suffered from several problems," explained Sandefur. "Some of them were vaguely written, and had complicated legal flaws. I think voters wanted to be sure that they got real reform on eminent domain."

"Pacific Legal Foundation has been arguing for decades that government's infringements on private property rights require reform," said Sandefur, who moderates the weblog PLF On Eminent Domain (http://eminentdomain.typepad.com). His new book, Cornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in 21st Century America, tells many stories from PLF's three decades of defending property rights. "We've hoped to see reform from the courts, and some courts have refused to follow the Kelo theory. But other courts have remained silent, and the voters have decided that they had to take reform into their own hands."

About Pacific Legal Foundation

Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation is the nation's oldest and largest public interest legal organization dedicated to protecting property rights, limited government, and individual freedom.
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Date:Nov 8, 2006
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