An American civil rights leader has called for the “immediate prosecution of all of the people who took the land in this country for their personal use”.
The eminent domain bill being considered in California, the first state to legalize eminent domain for private use, would allow private owners to seize public property without compensation and turn it over to a public authority.
“The bill is a blatant abuse of power, and it should be overturned,” said John C. Calhoun, the president of the American Historical Association, a prominent US civil rights group.
“It is a violation of the basic principles of the rule of law, and that includes the principle that no private person may take property from another.”‘
A massive theft of public property’The bill was introduced in January, but only came to the senate floor for a vote in late March.
The Senate majority leader, Charles Schumer, a Democrat, said the bill was “a massive theft” of public land.
The bill allows a public body to seize private property for private purposes if the landowner has “no reasonable expectation of profit” and “a reasonable expectation that the use will not be used to further the private interests of the owner”.
California’s bill is not the first time a state has sought to curtail eminent domain, as a bill in New York passed by the New York senate on Wednesday and was expected to be signed by the governor.
But it is the first bill that has gone before the US supreme court and the bill is likely to be struck down by the court as a violation with the power to review the constitutionality of federal laws.
“If it passes the court, I believe it will go to the US Supreme Court,” said Andrew Wheeler, an associate professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley.
“It is the most extreme eminent domain case in US history.
I can’t think of any other case in which it has been used as a tool.”
In addition to the state’s bill, California has passed legislation in recent months to prevent the US government from seizing private property on public land for public use.
In 2016, the state passed a bill that would prohibit the use of eminent domain to acquire property for any public purpose.