The reaction from the states was swift and heated. Within weeks of the court's decision, Texas, Alabama and Delaware passed bills by overwhelming bipartisan margins limiting the right of local governments to seize property and turn it over to private developers. Since then, lawmakers in three dozen other states have proposed similar restrictions and more are on the way, according to experts who track the issue.Isn't this federalism at its best? People express outrage over the Court's narrow definition of a right, and the state legislatures supply the missing protection for the individual through state statutory law. But there's a bit of a political dysfunction. The state legislatures can appease their constituents and reap the political gains without paying to price of sacrificing their own power. The city governments must bear the burden:
The National League of Cities, which supports the use of eminent domain as what it calls a necessary tool of urban development, has identified the issue as the most crucial facing local governments this year. The league has called upon mayors and other local officials to lobby Congress and state legislators to try to stop the avalanche of bills to limit the power of government to take private property for presumed public good....Should the constituents of the entire state determine the scope of a government power that is most significant in the cities? The majority within a city is going to have a different outlook. Presumably, when a city wants to undertake a project, the people in the city support it, so we shouldn't expect that circumscribed majority to be as enthusiastic about protecting property rights. And a city in need of development will probably have greater concentrations of liberal voters, who are less enthusiastic about property rights than the citizens of whole states.
More neutral observers expressed concern that state officials, in their zeal to protect homeowners and small businesses, would handcuff local governments that are trying to revitalize dying cities and fill in blighted areas with projects that produce tax revenues and jobs.
"It's fair to say that many states are on the verge of seriously overreacting to the Kelo decision," said John D. Echeverria, executive director of the Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Institute and an authority on land-use policy. "The danger is that some legislators are going to attempt to destroy what is a significant and sometimes painful but essential government power. The extremist position is a prescription for economic decline for many metropolitan areas around the county."