Gradual and Silent Encroachments: How the Missouri Supreme Court Expanded the Power of Eminent Domain
The Constitution of Missouri includes more provisions addressing the property rights of citizens than that of any other state. The careful restrictions it places on the use of eminent domain show that, in ratifying the Constitution, the people of the Show-Me State intended to prevent the abuse of eminent domain to benefit private parties. Despite these protections, however, few states today have so dismal a record of eminent domain abuse as Missouri. And, in 2008, despite the constitutional and statutory restrictions on the government’s ability to take one person’s home, business, or house of worship and give it to another private owner, the Missouri Supreme Court chose to expand the power even further, placing the property rights of all Missourians in even greater jeopardy. This study will examine the case of City of Arnold v. Tourkakis, to describe the protections to which Missourians should be entitled and how Missouri’s courts have eroded the legal barriers that once protected citizens from governmental efforts to transfer property from one private owner to another. Part I, therefore, details the constitutional provisions governing eminent domain in Missouri. Part II discusses the Missouri Real Property Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act — the “TIF Act” — which was at the center of the Tourkakis case. Part III will detail the Tourkakis litigation, and Part IV will describe the court’s decision and its shortcomings.