(Alexandria, VA) -- The U.S. Supreme Court's narrow 5-4 ruling in the Kelo v. City of New London case today has wide implications for taxpayers, not just property owners, according to the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU), a non-partisan citizen group that filed a "friend of the court" brief in the case on behalf of the homeowners. John Berthoud, President of NTU, offered the following reaction on the heels of the decision:
"By giving governments a green light to bulldoze citizens' homes in the name of development schemes that supposedly promise higher revenues, the Supreme Court is also granting politicians a license to trample on overburdened taxpayers. Property rights have always been inseparable from taxpayer rights, which is why this ruling is one of the most shocking setbacks for economic freedom and limited government in a decade.
Within hours of this decision being issued, overreaching bureaucrats and their political allies around the country began declaring victory on behalf of subsidized development schemes that will not only cost citizens the residences and businesses they worked hard to build, but will also cost taxpayers the money they worked hard to earn. From shopping malls to sports stadiums, the Court has unjustly given its blessing to many crony-capitalist projects that depend more heavily on public funding than free-market principles to succeed.
Justice O'Connor was absolutely right when she pointed out that the beneficiaries of this ruling 'are likely to be those with disproportionate power and influence in the political process.' Even the majority of Justices acknowledged that states are free to enact restrictions on eminent-domain power grabs. At least these two facts give taxpayers hope, and give NTU a mission. As an organization that has fought back against big government for 35 years, we will not surrender our property rights or taxpayer rights because of this ruling. We the people will take back the Fifth Amendment, state by state, community by community, if necessary."
NTU was founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes and smaller government at all levels. In addition to joining an amicus brief with eight other groups on behalf of the property owners in Kelo, NTU also signed an October 2004 coalition letter from over 40 organizations urging the Bush Administration to "affirm its support for property rights and refrain from filing a brief in Kelo." Note: Copies of the brief and the letter are available online at www.ntu.org.