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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Border Fence Eminent Domain Issues

A number of disputes have arisen in Texas about the use of eminent domain to take property surrunding the new border fence.  The judge on some of the cases recently ordered the government to negotiate over price with the property owners:

A federal judge has ruled that the government must first try to negotiate a price with a South Texas landowner before seizing her property for the border fence.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen late Friday came a month after federal prosecutors argued that immediate access to property was necessary to getting 370 miles of fencing built by December.

Under the ruling, the Department of Homeland Security must provide proof of bargaining with landowner Eloisa Tamez or conduct "good faith" negotiations with her by March 21.

I'm not sure one way or the other about whether the judge's order is justified under the applicable statute, but I've been a big fan of forcing the government to negotiate in good faith before using eminent domain.

Ben Barros

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