Property rights proponents are united in their opposition to Tempe's abuse of eminent domain to take private property so a developer can build an enormous retail shopping mall.
In a move that may obfuscate the issues involved in the project, the developer shrewdly hired Tom Liddy as a spokesman, capitalizing on his former affiliation as an Institute for Justice attorney and his marginal role in the Bailey Brake Shop case.
Despite trumpeting his former affiliation in a recent East Valley Tribune op-ed defending the developer, Liddy neither argued in court on behalf of Randy Bailey nor authored any substantive legal briefs in the case. As his consistent mischaracterization of the constitutional standard reveals, Liddy is not an eminent domain lawyer.
Liddy argues that Tempe's project will "benefit" the public because the developer will engage in geotechnical remediation of the land. But such remediation is only necessary to build the shopping mall and not to protect the health or safety of the existing property owners. The constitutional issue is whether the project is a valid "public use." Maricopa County Superior Court judge Kenneth Fields found that the driving force behind this project is private profit. The trial court thus properly ruled that Tempe's project violates the Arizona Constitution's declaration that "private property shall not be taken for private use," a ruling that will be upheld on appeal.
Tim Keller is executive director of the Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter and an advisor to the Goldwater Institute.
-Liddy: "Ruling Not the Last Word"
-Keller: "The Marketplace Case"
-Institute for Justice: "Tempe Property Owners Score Victory over Eminent Domain Abuse"
-Study: Condemning Condemnation: Alternatives to Eminent Domain