Wednesday, July 26, 2006

OH Supremes Put the Wood to Norwood

It’s nice to know that we’re not necessarily at the mercy of deep pocketed developers and greedy city officials. One can only applaud when the courts actually take property rights somewhat seriously:

“In the ruling, Justice Maureen O'Connor said cities may consider economic benefits but that courts deciding such cases in the future must ‘apply heightened scrutiny’ to assure private citizens' property rights.

‘For the individual property owner, the appropriation is not simply the seizure of a house,’ she wrote. ‘It is the taking of a home - the place where ancestors toiled, where families were raised, where memories were made,’"
I’d prefer a stronger justification – or at least a less emotional one – since the quoted section implies that if you haven’t lived there long, you have less right to your property.

Surprisingly, the “study” conducted to determine that the neighborhood was deteriorating was paid for by the developer. Can’t be any conflict of interest there, can there? [sarcasm off]

The Institute For Justice summary is here, which also includes links to PDF files of legal filings and the Court’s opinion.

I suspect that we still need some stronger legislation to protect our property, but I’m skeptical of the ability of the legislature to deliver it. A good next step would be for the voters of Norwood to do a little housecleaning of their deteriorating city government.

Update: The Volokh Conspiracy’s Ilya Somin provides some detailed analysis of Norwood v Horney. Essentail findings: It’s a stronger decision than the AP release would lead you to belive, although with some significant weakness in allowing private economic gain into the mix in a restricted fashion. Key finding #2: the post-Kelo Ohio legislative reforms were not very good. (I know you’re surprised.)