Hearings started today on a bill that would add an eminent domain clause to the NC Constitution. The need for such an amendment has been clear since 2005 when, in its infamous Kelo v. City of New London decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that property owners could not rely on the U.S. Constitution for protection against eminent domain abuse.
The Court went on to note that state governments were free to provide such protection under state law if they wished, and many states, including South Carolina and Virginia, responded to this challenge by amending their constitutions. Now, almost ten years later, North Carolina is the only state in the union without any kind of eminent domain clause in its constitution.
An eminent domain amendment is, therefore, long past due. Unfortunately, the specific language that has been proposed leaves a lot to be desired. Indeed, as I explain in this week’s Legal Update newsletter, in its current form it’s hard to see how it adds much at all to the woefully inadequate protections that are already in place.