Bulldozing Free Speech on Eminent Domain Abuse

Carla Main wrote an outstanding book called Bulldozed. A veteran journalist, she brought to life a heart-wrenching, true-life tale of eminent domain abuse in a Texas fishing town. She told the truth. And for that, she’s being sued.

Today, Carla is fighting back.

This morning, Carla asked a Texas appeals court to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed against here by a developer involved in the Texas case.

Some background:

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The Texas developer behind this abuse project is H. Walker Royall. As the video makes clear, millions of taxpayer dollars later, the project is now an epic debacle.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

In March 2002, a group of private investors, led by a man named H. Walker Royall, formed a company called Freeport Waterfront Properties. Six months later, consultants hired by the city released a redevelopment plan — and, amazingly, it recommended a private marina, just what Mr. Royall’s investors had hoped for. The city did not open the marina project to competition; it just handed it over to Freeport Waterfront. Conveniently, Mr. Royall sat on the board of Sun Resorts, another company that the city selected, also without competition, this time to manage the marina once it was built.

The cozy arrangements didn’t stop there. Freeport agreed to give the private investors $6 million in the form of a no-recourse loan. . . . The only obstacle to this sweetheart deal was Western Seafood. It owned the land where Mr. Royall and his friends wanted to build. The city came up with a clever way around this problem. Claiming eminent domain, it proposed to take only part of the company’s land. . . . The tale gets worse.

Carla’s book gives an accurate and fascinating account of what happened in Freeport, Texas. If successful, the lawsuit against here could permanently ban Bulldozed from further printing and distribution. [The book is available on amazon here.]

Carla summed this up at Real Clear Politics:

Royall has picked on the most vulnerable people he could find–writers, a scholar, a nonprofit publisher and a community newspaper. He didn’t sue more powerful venues, such as The Wall Street Journal, which favorably reviewed “Bulldozed,” or the Cato Institute’s Regulation magazine, which have the resources and the lawyers to defend themselves.

In the schoolyard, someone who acts like Royall is called a bully. We are grateful for friends, including the public interest advocacy organization the Institute for Justice, who have rallied to our side to represent us. In this latest misadventure unleashed by Kelo, what is at stake are not only property rights, but intellectual freedom and the First Amendment. It’s a battle worth fighting.

The Institute for Justice, the nation’s leading legal advocate for liberty, fights for victims like Carla Main all across the country. Today, we appeared in the Dallas courtroom beside Carla, asking a panel of judges to put an end to the lawsuit against her.

According to IJ Senior Attorney Dana Berliner:

Eminent domain for private development is the subject of nationwide public debate. If Walker Royall doesn’t want anyone to talk about him or his development deals, he shouldn’t enter into deals that involve a city condemning his neighbor’s property.

Simply put, private developers shouldn’t be able to bulldoze private property. And the victims of such abuse, and those who talk about it, should never be silenced.

Click here for more on the lawsuit. The Institute for Justice is also online at facebook, You Tube and twitter.