Missouri Supreme Court to Decide Whether Cities May Continue to Abuse Eminent Domain
During the five years between December 2002 and November 2007, dozens of cities acting without a constitutional charter used bogus blight designations to threaten the use of eminent domain against more than 1,500 properties. Facing the threat of condemnation, many owners reluctantly sold their homes and businesses for less than they were worth.
The Missouri Bill of Rights contains some of the strongest property rights protections in the entire nation, said Jenifer Roland, the Show-Me Institute’s director of policy and a nationally respected expert in eminent domain law. It is appalling that this state’s cities have been given so much leeway to trample on their citizens’ freedoms.
Dr. Homer Tourkakis, a dentist who has practiced in Arnold, Mo., for two decades, chose to fight for his constitutional rights rather than accept a low-ball offer for his business. His resistance was vindicated last year when a judge ruled that the Missouri Constitution does not permit cities like Arnold to take properties based on claims of blight.
The Show-Me Institute submitted a brief to the Missouri Supreme Court in support of Dr. Tourkakis, arguing that the Court should stem the tide of eminent domain abuse by enforcing constitutional limitations on government authority to take citizens properties.
The Missouri Supreme Court has a golden opportunity to do the right thing by affirming the Constitution’s emphatic protection of individual liberties, said Dave Roland, a policy analyst for the Show-Me Institute. A proper decision from the Court will reassure Missourians that they have a right to keep what belongs to them.
Live Streaming Audio of the City of Arnold v. Tourkakis Oral Argument (available Thursday from 9:30 – 10:15 a.m.)