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Eminent Domain in Virginia

ACTA’s Watchdog newsletter has not carried any stories on eminent domain, but that is not because we care any less for property rights issues than we do tax issues. In Arlington County, however, there is just so much to write about on taxes.

The Virginia Institute of Public Policy has been a leader in the fight for stronger property rights for Virginia property owners. If you are interested in the status of property rights and eminent domain in the Commonwealth, VIPP published a “must-read” study last year entitled, The Real Story of Eminent Domain in Virginia: The Rise, Fall, and Undetermined Future of Property Rights in Virginia. It was written by Jeremy P. Hopkins, Esq.

In the introduction to the study, Hopkins writes:

“A state’s treatment of the right to private property is one of the most telling indicators of the character and nature of its government. Where strong private property rights exist, freedom and liberty almost always abound. Where private property does not exist, or here the protections of this right are weak, government control and domination prevail. As the United States Supreme Court once declared, “[i]n any society the fullness and suffi ciency of the securities which surround the individual in the use and enjoyment of his property constitute one of the most certain tests of the character and value of the government.” Virginia’s own Thomas Jefferson announced that “the defense of private property is the standard by which ‘every provision’ of law, past and present, shall be judged.” The Court’s stated test and the standard Thomas Jefferson pronounced both indicate that the character and nature of Virginia’s government has fallen a long way since the days of Virginia’s founders.”

An important point to keep in mind as you read the study, according to Hopkins, is that:

“Eminent domain reform is not a partisan issue. The only real division when it comes to eminent domain is the takers and the taken from.”

While at the Institute’s website, take the time to read other fine studies and essays on freedom and liberty in Virginia, which it publishes!

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