5/08/2006

Voters Block Taking Of Souter’s Property By Eminent Domain: North Country Gazette (Chestertown NY), 3/15/06

There won’t be any “taking” of Supreme Court Justice David Souter’s farmhouse to make way for the Lost Liberty hotel.

By a 3-1 margin, voters in Souter’s hometown [of Weare NH] voted down a proposal Tuesday 1,167 too 493 that would have allowed the town to seize his 200-year-old farmhouse under eminent domain.

Angered by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision last year in the property rights case of Kelo v. New London, activists sought to take Souter’s property as a payback.

Voters instead asked the town Board of Selectman to urge the state to adopt a law that would forbid seizures of property by eminent domain.

Souter, a long-time resident of Weare, home to about 9,500, was in the majority for the 5-4 eminent domain case of Kelo v. City of New London , Conn., last June in which the Supreme Court ruled that government entities can take private property if the land is for public use. In Kelo, the Court said New London could take private property through eminent domain for the development of a hotel and convention center.

The decision left room for the states to create their own legislation to deal with the issue.

A group of activists, led by California resident Logan Darrow Clements, wanted Souter's 200-year-old farmhouse and eight acres seized for the purpose of building an inn to be known as the Lost Liberty Hotel.

Clements is the CEO of Freestar Media, a Los Angeles based company that fights "abusive" government through his website and cable show.

Clements said his goal was to "try to put an end to eminent domain abuse by having those who advocate or facilitate it live under it so they understand why it needs to end".

Residents of the town had petitioned to put the issue on the town's March 14 ballot. However, in deciding what issues should appear on the March ballot, voters rejected the activists' proposal with an action to instead strengthen New Hampshire's eminent domain law. 3-15-06


North Country Gazette: http://www.northcountrygazette.org