The Citizens Research Council of Michigan has released the thirteenth in a series of papers focusing on state constitutional issues. CRC is examining the state’s constitution in anticipation of this November’s vote on whether Michigan should convene a constitutional convention. This paper focuses on Article X of the 1963 Constitution – Property.
Article X has remained largely unchanged since adoption of the 1963 Constitution. The 2006 amendment of Section 2, dealing with eminent domain, has been the only amendment to Article X.
Eminent domain ranks as one of the governmental powers most likely to create sentiments of expanded government. The perceived abuse of that power-when governments use of that power was permitted to extend to economic development-resulted in a 2006 constitutional amendment curtailing such uses.
A constitutional convention could examine the issue of eminent domain and the difficulty of balancing the legitimate need for government taking with the protection of property owners rights. Changes that create more protections for property owners could make it more difficult and more expensive for governments to exercise eminent domain. Some might attempt to lessen the cost to governments in exercising eminent domain without creating additional opportunities for its use in economic development. Many might feel that it is too soon to judge whether the 2006 amendment created a proper balance and suggest it should be given more time as is.
“Nothing in Article X has become obsolete nor in violation of provisions in the U.S. Constitution,” said Eric Lupher, CRC’s Director of Local Affairs. “Proposal 2006-4 received overwhelming support from the voters as a tool to end the perceived abuse of eminent domain. Voters might be concerned about protecting provisions recently amended to the Constitution when they are considering the need for a constitutional convention.”