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Sept. 21: A discussion of when and why private property should be taken for the public good

A Constitution Café discussion: "Taking private property for public use: When and how should the power of eminent domain be employed?" as part of My Daily Constitution.

When: Thursday, September 21 Noon - 1:00 PM

Where: Shapiro’s Downtown 808 S Meridian St Indianapolis 46225

Historically, there are many examples of governments seizing private property for public use whether to build roads, military bases, hydroelectric plants, or other projects deemed necessary for “the public good”. As the definition of “public good” has broadened to include private redevelopment in communities across the country, the issue of when and how to apply eminent domain has become hotly debated. How can public good be defined in a way that respects individual rights?

A couple of very different and very sharp legal minds will lead this discussion. Abdul-Hakim Shabazz is the host of "Abdul in the Mornings" which can be heard weekday mornings from 5-9 on Newstalk 1430 AM, WXNT. Shabazz’s program focuses on local, state and national issues. His guests have included Governor Mitch Daniels, Mayor Bart Peterson, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Indianapolis City-County Council President Steve Talley. In addition to hosting the morning show, Shabazz is also an attorney, adjunct faculty member at Ivy Tech State College, columnist for the Indianapolis Business Journal and stand-up comedian. Prior to coming to Indianapolis, Shabazz hosted a morning radio talk show in Springfield, IL. Before that he was an assistant to the Illinois Attorney General, and he’s also been a reporter in Central Illinois.

Jeffrey Stake is a professor of law at Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington. He teaches Property, Wills and Trusts, and Land-Use Controls, and has had visiting appointments at Illinois, Colorado, Georgetown, and Paris II (Pantheon-Assas). His research focuses primarily on property law and family law. His interdisciplinary approach brings principles of economics, psychology, and evolution to bear on legal issues from alimony and adverse possession to the Rule against Perpetuities. He is a founding member, and current Vice-President, of the Society for Evolutionary Analysis of Law. At IU, he has received the Leon Wallace Teaching Award and the Trustees Teaching Award.

For more information ...

Looking for reasons to be unhappy about this issue? Ever since the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. New London ordered a residents to vacate their homes to make way for a riverfront property development, a lot of people have been unhappy. Try typing "eminent domain" and "theft" into Google, you get nearly a million web pains that share your anger. If you want examples close to home, check out the libertarian Reason Foundation's section on Eminent Domain: several outrages from Indiana (including the Colts and a bean factory). On the other hand, one of the most articulate defenses of eminent domain from the perspective of a policymaker is from Bart Peterson, who argues that the redevelopment of Fall Creek Place would have been impossible without eminent domain (and hurt no one). One of the most insightful scholars of property relations around is Dan Cole, of the IU-Indianapolis law school, who has written a most sensible analysis of Kelo: "Why Kelo Is Not Good News for Local Planners and Developers ."

About the venue. No one in town would accept Shapiro's Deli being the target of eminent domain! Shapiro’s opened its doors to customers in 1905 as a storefront grocery. Louis Shapiro, a Russian immigrant, sold kosher meats and groceries to the southside Jewish community. After prohibition, Shapiro began to sell cold beers, and eventually deli sandwiches, corned beef, and pastrami at the request of customers. The grocery store closed in the late 1930s, but the deli business prospered. Today, the downtown location seats over 200 people, and a second deli opened in Carmel in 2002.

If you like this event ... You really ought to attend the discussion of environmental regulation (and the bus tour). Many of the people who see the abuse of eminent domain as a constitutional outrage are not very friendly toward regulation, which they often call a version of "taking" of property. Should make for an interesting discussion when these two groups attend each other's event.

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