Alabama Limits Eminent Domain Post-Kelo

Alabama became the first in what appears to be a parade of states to enact legislation limiting the scope of the eminent domain power in light of the Supreme Court’s sweeping ruling in Kelo at the end of last term.

Alabama limits eminent domain (Washington Times)

Alabama yesterday became the first state to enact new protections against local-government seizure of property allowed under a Supreme Court ruling that has triggered an explosive grass-roots counteroffensive across the country. Republican Gov. Bob Riley signed a bill that was passed unanimously by a special session of the Alabama Legislature, which would prohibit governments from using their eminent-domain authority to take privately owned properties for the purpose of turning them over to retail, industrial, office or residential developers. Calling the high court’s June 23 ruling “misguided” and a “threat to all property owners,” Mr. Riley said, “A property rights revolt is sweeping the nation, and Alabama is leading it.”

The backlash against the judicial ruling has not received much attention in the national press, although legislative leaders in more than two dozen states have proposed statutes and/or state constitutional amendments to restrict local governments’ eminent-domain powers. Besides Alabama, legislation to ban or restrict the use of eminent domain for private development has been introduced in 16 states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas. Legislators have announced plans to introduce eminent-domain bills in seven more states: Alaska, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Dakota, South Carolina and Wisconsin, and lawmakers in Colorado, Georgia and Virginia plan to act on previously introduced bills. In addition, public support is being sought for state constitutional prohibitions in several states — Alabama, California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey and Texas.

In an elaborate signing ceremony in the State Capitol’s historic Old House Chamber, Mr. Riley said, “Alabamians can rest assured that their homes, farms, business and other private property are safe from being seized by government for a shopping center, or a factory, an office building or new residential development.”

For once, Alabama is the leader in something good.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. “For once, Alabama is the leader in something good.”

    It’s kind of a relief for those of us who live here. 🙂

  2. Steve Verdon says:

    It sure would have been nice if Alabama didn’t have to do this. Of course, this would require surgery on several supreme court justices to remove their heads from their lower GI tract.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Russell–Indeed. My parents still live there and I’ve got three degrees from Alabama universities, so I’ve got a vested interest as well.

  4. Herb says:

    Alabama deserves the praise and support of the entire country for leading this cause,

    However, none of this would ever have to be needed if our “glorious” congressman and Senators had the guts to exercise their “Power of Impeachment” over those in the Supreme Court that seem hell bent on destroying the American Way of Life”

    I always thought that our “leaders” took an oath to “preserve and Protect” the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that guarantee everyone “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”

  5. dw says:

    Heh. This protection has been in the Washington state constitution for years, and Kelo didn’t affect it at all.

  6. sgtfluffy says:

    The first seal has been broken……

  7. Ken Matthews says:

    I left my home on the Gulf Coast of Alabama 35 years ago and have lived in Atlanta and New York since. I am now building my retirement home on the coast in Baldwin County, AL and can’t wait to get back to where common sense is still common.
    I used to “get my back up” when people would belittle my home state. Now I just go along with it and hope they will stay in the big city while I make my escape.
    Alabama has a state motto which is evidenced in this legislative action. “We dare defend our rights”