Officials of and lawyers for Columbia University must be chortling in ecstatic gloat. They’ve gotten away with something very much like theft.
But it’s all above-board and legal, thanks to the Supreme Court, which would not hear the case of property owner Nick Sprayregen, from whom Columbia aims to take property. Sprayregen doesn’t want to sell, as he makes quite clear in something he wrote a few days ago for The Huffington Post.
Yup, this is another travesty of “eminent domain.”
Actually, I’ve written about this case before. Two years ago I called your attention to some of what was going on, calling it a scam: “Columbia has acquired many buildings in the neighborhood, but is not maintaining them. Because of Columbia’s own run-down buildings, the state has formally declared the neighborhood to be ‘blighted.’ If the entire area is now condemned, full ownership can be transferred to Columbia.” In 2009, Damon Root wrote in the New York Post more extensively about Columbia’s tricky maneuvers.
The first legal battle against Columbia succeeded, but an appeals court ruled against that initial finding, on dubious grounds.
Sprayregen understands what’s at issue:
Eminent domain is not for private institutions like Columbia to expand their profit-making efforts beyond what the free market would allow. I believe that what Columbia has been trying to do is illegal. . . .
You might think that the Supreme Court, after Kelo, would want to clarify the matter. No such luck.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.