June 26, 2006

President Bush Defends Americans' Property Rights

On the one-year anniversary of the infamous Kelo decision, President Bush boldly moved to defend the property rights of all Americans with this executive order.

Here is Senator Cornyn's reaction to the President's order:

Executive Order signed by the President is an important step, Cornyn says

WASHINGTON— U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that an Executive Order signed by President Bush Friday sends an important signal to all federal agencies about the need to protect private property. The order was signed on the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s controversial Kelo decision. Cornyn, the author of the bipartisan Protection of Homes, Small Businesses, and Private Property Act (S. 1313), said the action was welcome, but “Congress must act soon.”

“The protection of homes and small businesses and other private property against government seizure or unreasonable government interference is a fundamental principle of American life and a distinctive aspect of our form of government,” Cornyn said. “The Supreme Court’s decision last year represented a radical departure from the decisions handed down interpreting that constitutional provision over the last 200 years, and the President’s action was an important step toward righting that wrong. But Congress must act soon.”

Cornyn, the first to file legislation on the issue after the Court’s ruling last year, said the Executive Order was similar to a portion of his legislation, but Congressional action is still required to protect property rights against federally funded abuses by local governments. The Cornyn legislation not only prevents federal takings for non-public use, but also prevents any federal funds from being used on projects where local governments have taken property for private use.

The Executive Order directs the Attorney General to issue instructions to the heads of agencies to implement this policy and to monitor the takings of private property by the agencies for compliance with the policy. Nothing in the order prohibits a taking of private property by the Federal Government legitimate public use, including for public ownership or exclusive use of the property, such as for a public medical facility, roadway, park, governmental office building or military reservation; conveying the property to a nongovernmental entity, such as a telecommunications or transportation common carrier, that makes the property available for use by the general public as of right; or meeting military, law enforcement, public safety or public health emergencies.

Cornyn is the author of the Protection of Homes, Small Businesses, and Private Property Act (S. 1313). The Cornyn legislation would clarify government's exercise of its power of eminent domain to be limited only for public use. The bipartisan bill now has 31 Senate co-sponsors. More information can be found here: http://cornyn.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=239637