Private Property Rights

“The abuse of eminent domain has become a national plague, and the Institute for Justice is fighting to end it.”
The Boston Globe

For half a century, unrestrained local and state governments have taken private property not for "public uses"—such as for bridges or public buildings—as permitted by the Constitution, but for private businesses in the name of "economic development." Private homes and businesses have been bulldozed, replaced by newer businesses and homes owned not by the public, but by private, politically powerful individuals and corporations.

The Institute for Justice began its fight against eminent domain abuse by successfully defending Vera Coking, an elderly widow from Atlantic City, against the condemnation of her home by a state agency that sought to take her property and transfer it (at a bargain-basement price) to another private individual: Donald Trump. Trump wanted the property for a limousine parking lot for his customers—hardly a public use.

Until IJ began fighting eminent domain abuse, the presumption was that people like Vera would lose. But thanks to our path-breaking work in the court of law and the court of public opinion, Vera won. The Institute set an important precedent that it continues to build on to this day, preserving property rights nationwide.

The Institute’s cutting-edge property rights litigation also extends to challenging the abuse of civil forfeiture laws and warrantless searches of homes and businesses. We also team up with Professor Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago Law School to weigh in on landmark property rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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