New York Property Rights

Since the decision by the United States Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London many states across the country have taken measures to help protect the rights of private ownership.  The controversial Kelo decision held that a local government can take the private property of one person and give it to another private entity.  While the Court’s ruling was seen by many as a serious blow to citizen’s constitutionally protected rights of private property ownership, the decision prompted a number of states to initiate legislative reform to help curb eminent domain abuse.

The Castle Coalition has released a report, grading each of the states based on their efforts to protect private property owners and their rights based on changes in their respective state laws.  The Castle Coalition is the Institute for Justice’s nationwide grassroots property rights activism project that teaches home and small business owners how to protect themselves and stand up to abuse by governments and developers who seek to use eminent domain to take private property for their own gain.  Stated below is the letter grade, as given by the Castle Coalition, along with a description of the changes that have occurred since Kelo v. City of New London.


New York Castle Coalition letter grade of


The state of New York ceased to pass any sort of legislative reform since the 2005 landmark case of Kelo v. City of New London, thus receiving the lowest possible letter grade.


New York receives the lowest grade for not passing any legislation reform since Kelo v. City of New London, which means that private property is susceptible to condemnation for economic development.  Several New York lawmakers have attempted to enact post Kelo reform to help curb eminent domain abuse in the State of New York, but their bills languished after receiving opposition from the Bloomberg administration.

The Atlantic Yards Project is one of New York’s most controversial eminent domain cases in recent history.  The New York Court of Appeals recently filed a decision on whether or not the state had the authority to use eminent domain for this project in Goldstein, et al., vs New York State Urban Development Corp., d/b/a Empire State Development Corp. Not suprisingly, the courts ruled in favor of the government and property was in turn acquired through eminent domain and sold to private developers.   For more specific information on this specific case, visit the project blog at:

Another recent controversial eminent domain case has ended in favor of the state when the New York Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the state has the authority to acquire private property through eminent domain for a 17 acre expansion of Columbia University.  In it’s decision written by Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, the court stated, “We ruled for Atlantic Yards, and if we could rule in favor of a basketball arena, surely we could rule for a non-profit university”.  The property owners and their attorney, Norman Siegel, exercised their last legal remedy by petitioning the US Supreme Court to hear their case.  This petition was denied on December 13th, 2010 and condemnation proceedings continued.

Legislation reform in New York is desperately needed in order to curb eminent domain abuse and strengthen New York property rights.  Although previous efforts of legislative reform were unsuccessful, property owners are still encouraged to contact their law makers and demand eminent domain reform.



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