Wrecking Eminent Domain: Off The Grid News Columnist Bill Heid Argues Against Eminent Domain

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Off The Grid News columnist draws parallels between Wreck-It Ralph and real cases involving eminent domain, asserting that it is unethical, immoral, and against God’s Law.

Off The Grid News

’Eminent domain’ is a legal term. It expresses the right or power of the State to take private property for public use, with or without compensation. The apartment building amounts to a city-sanctioned...

In his most recent article, “Wreck-It Ralph and Eminent Domain,” author Bill Heid tackles the tricky question of eminent domain, using examples from the new movie Wreck-It Ralph and two recent events in the news to illustrate his point. He argues that it is not the place of the government to seize private property and then bestow it where they so choose, and, in fact, to do so is morally and ethically wrong.

Heid begins by questioning the motives of the movie’s protagonist, Wreck-It Ralph. Why does he continually try to destroy the building, and why does he decide to attempt to change his image as a “bad guy”? Heid finds the answer in the lyrics in the closing credits: the city confiscated Ralph’s property to construct the building. He explains. “’Eminent domain’ is a legal term. It expresses the right or power of the State to take private property for public use, with or without compensation. The apartment building amounts to a city-sanctioned confiscation of Ralph’s property. So all along Ralph has been fighting to push off the city-sanctioned squatters and take back his land, ‘brick by brick.’ From Ralph’s point of view, he’s the victim and the underdog.”

Heid draws parallels from the movie to several high-profile cases from the news, including 2005’s Kelo vs. New London where an old neighborhood was given to a pharmaceutical giant in order to build a new facility (http://www.il.org/kelo-v-new-london). This case raised awareness of eminent domain abuses throughout the country, prompting many states to pass further restrictions to prevent such abuses. Heid also points to the ongoing controversy over Bruce Ratner and the Atlantic Yards project, questioning whether the developer’s motives were as altruistic as Ratner claims (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/27nyregion/for-developer-bruce-ratner-nets-purchase-aided-atlantic-yards-project.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0).

Heid uses these examples to discuss the theology of eminent domain. He remarks that even though God created and owns the earth, “Through His law, God has delegated temporary and limited ownership of property to men. This ownership is defined and delineated by His law. It is summarized in the 8th Commandment: ‘Thou shalt not steal’ (Ex. 20:15).” He further states that God does not give eminent domain rights to the State anywhere in Scripture and the State’s assuming eminent domain is stealing. The only way, according to God’s Law, to acquire land is through purchase at a fair price.

He concludes, “There can be no appeal against [eminent domain] from within the [American] system. God, however, can bring judgment from outside the system.”

Bill Heid is the radio co-host of Off The Grid News, an independent organization devoted to providing practical information about living today and in light of the future. He and his news team look for the truth beneath the facts of the top news stories and how they will affect your life.

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