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House votes to cut funding for developments involving property seizures

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives passed a measure Thursday which would cut federal funding for development projects that involve seizure of private property. The legislation approved 231-189 was proposed in response to last week's US Supreme Court ruling on eminent domain [JURIST report] and was inserted as an amendment to a spending bill [text] for the Treasury, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development departments. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) [official website] sponsored the bill and denounced the Supreme Court's eminent domain decision by saying, "Once again, the highest court in the land has shown its inability to interpret the Constitution and defend the liberties and freedoms our forefathers so desperately envisioned when they established our great nation." Reuters has more.

Meanwhile, members of both the House and Senate Thursday promised similar bills to pull funding from government projects where individual homeowners are forced to sell their property in order for strip malls or hotels to be built in their place. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI) [official website], chairman of the House Judiciary Committee [official website], and ranking minority member Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) [official website] said they will propose the Private Property Rights Protection Act to combat eminent domain. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) [official website] and Bill Nelson (D-FL) [official website] are also joining forces to introduce the Protection of Homes, Small Businesses and Private Property Act [text, PDF] which will limit eminent domain to "public use" situations rather than promote private economic development.

The debate over the high court's ruling [JURIST report] has nonetheless not been without its partisanship. Within the Wisconsin Congressional caucus, for example, Rep. Sensenbrenner has criticized the Supreme Court's ruling by saying it "has the potential of becoming the Dred Scott decision] of the 21st century" while fellow Wisconsan Rep. David Obey [official website], ranking Democrat of the House Appropriations Committee [official website] and a supporter of the eminent domain ruling, has reminded Congress of the "system of separation of powers." The Washington Post has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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