Victory for Virginian's Property Rights

Richmond - Attorney General Bob McDonnell hailed the General Assembly passage today of eminent domain reform. This legislation p rovides that the power of eminent domain shall not be used to take private property to transfer ownership to another private party, for private economic gain, for an increase in tax revenues, or for an increase in employment. These are clearly not legitimate reasons to condemn a private property that our founders authorized in the state and federal constitutions. This legislation, sponsored by Delegate Rob Bell, Senator Ken Cuccinelli, Senator Steve Newman, and Senator Tommy Norment represents a milestone in the protection of Virginian fundamental constitutional right to own and enjoy private property. Speaking about today's vote Attorney General McDonnell remarked, "The right to private property is one of the foundations of our Republic. It is enshrined in the Constitution. However, as we have all witnessed, the Constitution is not always safe from bad court decisions which stray from the wisdom of our founding fathers. After the devastating United States Supreme Court ruling in Kelo v. City of New London in June 2005 I immediately called for additions to Virginia laws to make clear that the private property of Virginian s cannot be taken for private financial gain, an increase in tax revenue, or for an increase in employment. The legislation passed today accomplishes this important goal."

McDonnell continued noting, "I thank Delegate Bell, Senator Cuccinelli, Senator Newman and Senator Norment for their leadership on this issue. All property owners in Virginia should take great comfort in today's action. The idea that government could take a citizen's home to benefit private parties, or to increase taxes, is antithetical to the principles our nation was founded upon. Today's action is a victory for liberty in the Old Dominion."

Eminent domain is the right afforded to government by law to take private property for a legitimate public use. The term public use is generally defined by the state legislature. In Virginia it has been typically thought to mean construction of roads, airports, schools and similar-such projects. The issue moved to the forefront following the 2005 Supreme Court ruling in Kelo . In that case the United States Supreme Court allowed a Connecticut citizens home to be taken by the state strictly for the purpose of increasing the tax base by building a private business. This case created an immediate drive in Virginia , and nationally, to amend state laws to better protect the private property rights of citizens.

Attorney General McDonnell has long advocated new protections for private property. As a member of the House of Delegates he successfully advocated, prior to the Kelo ruling, for several significant private property protections. Since his election as Attorney General, he has advocated vigorously to prevent Kelo -type abuses in Virginia .