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December 10th, 2010 — By — In News & Events

Property owner in Columbia expansion case likens the use of eminent domain to “highway robbery”


Nick Sprayregen, owner of Tuck It Away, the lead plaintiff in the Columbia eminent domain case on petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court, explains in the Youtube video above how New York state’s eminent domain procedures favor the condemnors and deny property owners due process of law.

Earlier this week Mr. Sprayregen wrote why the Court should grant cert in the Huffington Post. Here’s an excerpt:

I am asking the court to take specific action and stop the taking through eminent domain of my property by an unelected agency of the state of New York merely to give it to a politically powerful private entity. If I am unsuccessful, the fate of my family business could be the fate of your home, your family business or any other property you and your family own.

* * * *

It is my belief that our highest court should take this case and show that the judiciary needs to protect the rights of all citizens against the tyranny that results from the collusion between executive and legislative branches of our government with favored private entities. It is exactly this responsibility that formed the basis of the checks and balances as laid out in our constitution. Nowadays, courts routinely abdicate their constitutionally mandated responsibilities and merely rubber stamp back-room deals made between our government and favored clients on the grounds that they must defer to decisions made by the other branches of our government.

As envisioned in our constitution, eminent domain is supposed to be for public uses — projects the public will own and use — such as a road or a post office. 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, and I hope our highest court will agree. However, regardless of the outcome of my case, I know that what Columbia and New York have done to the people of West Harlem is unfair and un-American.

Another video to watch concerning the Columbia University eminent domain case and the New York State Appellate Court hearing (the Court that found in favor of the owners before NY’s highest court overturned) is posted on Youtube here.