Eminent Domain

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Gov. Bob Riley has signed legislation that restricts the use of eminent domain in Alabama. The Legislature approved the restrictions in a special session that ended last week. Riley said yesterday that the new law puts Alabama at the forefront of a property rights revolt that is sweeping America.

The legislation is in reaction to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said New London, Connecticut, could use eminent domain to obtain homes for commercial development.

An attorney who represented the New London homeowners, Dana Berliner of Washington, says Alabama's new law is a good first step. But she says the law has an exception that allows governments to use eminent domain to remove blight. She says blight needs to be more closely defined so governments can't abuse it.