Castle Coalition

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Castle Coalition
Castle Coalition.jpg
Year created:2002
Affiliated with:Institute for Justice
Website:http://www.castlecoalition.org/
Portal:Congress
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The Castle Coalition is the Institute for Justice's nationwide grassroots property rights activism project. It functions using a nation-wide network of homeowners and citizen activists determined to stop the abuse of eminent domain in their communities, that is, the taking of private property by the government in order to give it to another private individual. The organization takes its name from the principle that Americans’ homes or businesses should be their castles—places where they are safe and free from abusive government power. The principle has been part of Anglo-American legal tradition since Edward Coke famously stated, "...a man's house is his castle."[1]

History

The Castle Coalition was founded in March 2002 as a project of the Institute for Justice in response to the number of the requests attorneys received from citizens facing threats of eminent domain who were years away from any actual litigation. After the success of community groups in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and New Rochelle, New York, attorneys at IJ organized a conference for other activists facing eminent domain abuse from around the United States to teach them how to succeed in preventing their local government from taking their property through eminent domain. Castle Coalition-trained activists have been successful in saving their homes in places like Ardmore, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Lakewood, Ohio, and Los Angeles, California.[2]

On May 13, 2002, Fortune magazine praised the new organization in a piece titled "Fighting City Hall":

"Superheroes? Maybe. Although its name sounds like something out of a comic book, the Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm in Washington, D.C., actually provides a much needed resource for business owners threatened with eviction. Since its founding in 1991, the firm has waged public relations campaigns and even stepped in to take legal action in communities when it feels the power of eminent domain has been abused. Of the nine projects that the Institute has taken on, it has won seven and lost none, and two are pending. But because the law firm can't take on every case across the U.S., it also created a grassroots group called the Castle Coalition to help teach business owners the ways they can take their fight to the streets and win. The group consists of community leaders and property owners who've successfully fought eminent domain cases or are currently involved in one. The coalition's website (castlecoalition.org) contains information on what steps you need to take and also tells you when to call in the pros."

In 2005, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Kelo v. City of New London. Although the decision allowed for a more expansive view of the “public use” clause in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution the decision also states, “Nothing in our opinion precludes any State from placing further restrictions on its exercise of the takings power.” In response to the decision, the Castle Coalition expanded its focus to include the reform of state and local eminent domain laws.

In June 2005, they launched a $3 million Hands Off My Home campaign, calling it "an aggressive initiative to effect significant and substantial reforms of state and local eminent domain laws." Two years after the beginning of the Hands Off My Home campaign, they published the 50 State Report Card to provide the results of the campaign. By June 2007, 21 states had enacted substantive eminent domain reform and 21 states had increased eminent domain protections, but not nearly enough to prevent takings allowed by the Kelo decision. Eight states had not passed any legislation reforming their eminent domain laws.[3]

The Castle Coalition provides model legislative language for eminent domain reform, stricter statutes and state constitutional amendments. The Castle Coalition also has several publications documenting the extent and nature of eminent domain abuse across the United States.

The Castle Coalition also brings activists together for a national conference annually and teaches home and small business owners how to protect themselves and stand up to the over-reaching governments and developers who seek to use eminent domain to take private property for their own gain.

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See also

External links

Publications

References