Missouri Eminent Domain Initiative Amendment to Article I (2008)

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Missouri Eminent Domain Restriction did not appear on the November 4, 2008 statewide ballot in Missouri as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure proposed restricting the use of eminent domain to only legal entities that will be using it for public use. This would have reversed the Kelo v. City of New London that allows the state of Missouri to declare property blight for economic development.

Supporters filed petition signatures on May 4, 2008, the final deadline for submittal, however election officials determined that insufficient signatures were filed to qualify the measure for the ballot.[1]

Details of the proposal

Other stipulations of the initiative included:

  • Prohibiting its use for private purposes, with certain exceptions for utilities;
  • Requiring that any taking of property be necessary for a public use and that landowners receive just compensation;
  • Requiring that the intended public use be declared at the time of the taking and permitting the original owners to repurchase the property if it is not so used within five years or if the property is offered for sale within 20 years.

Proponents challenge state ruling of 'insufficient signatures'

Missouri Citizens for Property Rights announced August 6, 2008 that it intended to challenge the Missouri Secretary of State's Tuesday ruling that it has not submitted enough valid signatures for its two constitutional amendments to appear on the November ballot.[2]

Challenge dropped; proponents look to 2010

Missouri Citizens for Property Rights sued in August after the secretary of state's office concluded it had collected too few signatures to place the amendments before voters. Ron Calzone, the group's leader, said it dropped the lawsuit because it became obvious there was no way to get enough signatures.

Calzone said he will try to get similar measures on the ballot for the next election cycle in 2010.

The lawsuit argued that signatures from the 2nd Congressional District weren't counted because the addresses on the petition and the addresses on file with local election authorities didn't perfectly match. Ballot measure supporters contended that the signatures should count if both addresses are within the congressional district.

After reviewing the voter rolls in the district, Calzone said, it became apparent the group's drive would fall at least several hundred signatures short.

Calzone said the lawsuit had been filed without really knowing if it would be successful, because state law allows just 10 days to challenge the secretary of state's certification decision.[3]


The Missouri Citizens for Property Rights sponsored the initiative. They wrote in a press release:

Perhaps of greatest importance, Missouri's constitutional provisions for protecting property rights should protect everyone's rights equally. We should accept no less than “justice for all” whether they be rich or poor, home owners or businesses, urban or rural. And the state's awesome power of eminent domain should never be conveyed to private entities for their personal profit![4]

In a ruling by the Missouri Supreme Court, Arnold v. Tourkakis, the city of Arnold had declared land blighted in order to make room for redevelopment. A dentist, Homer Tourkakis, fought the condemnation in court on the basis that despite the Kelo decision the Missouri Constitution says: “private property shall not be taken for private use with or without compensation, unless by consent of the owner.”

However the court ruled the Government "unlimited and practically absolute sovereign power of eminent domain." This prompted Tourkakis to sponsor the initiative and fight the court and state.[5]


No opposition was identified at the time.

See also

External links