Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Whatever Happened To "Kelo"?

In 2005, the United States Supreme Court upheld a Connecticut Supreme Court ruling in the case Kelo v. City of New London, in which the plaintiffs had filed suit after losing their homes in an eminent domain action by the city and an entity it had created called the New London Development Corporation (NLDC).  As explained in The Weekly Standard:
That is, the city and the NLDC were entitled to condemn and then bulldoze people’s homes solely in order to have something else built on the land that would produce higher property taxes​ - ​such as the office buildings, luxury condos, five-star hotel, spacious conference center, a “river walk” to a brand-new marina, and high-end retail stores that were part of an elaborate “economic development” plan for Fort Trumbull that the NLDC had launched in 1997.  The Constitution’s Fifth Amendment bars governments from taking private property unless the taking is for a “public use.”  Historically “public use,” as courts had interpreted it, meant a road, a bridge, a public school, or some other government structure.  But in the Kelo decision, the High Court majority declared that “economic development” that would involve using eminent domain to transfer the property of one private owner to a different but more economically ambitious private owner​ - ​such as a hotel​ - ​qualified as a public use just as much as, say, a new city library.
Today, the action by the New London government, later upheld by the state and federal Supreme Courts, looks like a huge mistake.  The residential area formerly known as Fort Trumbull, where Susette Kelo and the other plaintiffs once lived, was torn down, but nothing has been built in its place.  The only thing remaining is a line of telephone poles extending through an empty field.  Click on the link above to read the full story.

UPDATE:  National Review Online also has a story on Fort Trumbull and Kelo, including some pictures.

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