Reflecting on Kelo nine years later

posted at 3:01 pm on April 19, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

It’s been nine years since the Supreme Court, expressing their decision in the writings of John Paul Stevens, decided to fundamentally change the Takings Clause of the constitution in the case of Kelo v. City of New London. On this auspicious anniversary, a diarist at Redstate decides to take a fresh look at how wonderfully that exercise in freedom worked out for the citizens, and what they received in exchange for their liberties.

The Kelo ruling was controversial and precedent-setting because, under eminent domain, the government may seize the property of a private citizen when it’s deemed necessary for public use — the construction of an airport, freeway, or post office — and they usually do so politely, giving notice and paying out the appraised value, for example, but in this case the private property was being seized not for necessary public use but for commercial development by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

“Pfizer wants a nice place to operate,” a supercilious executive reportedly said in 2001. “We don’t want to be surrounded by tenements.”

But after prompting city officials to pave the way for its new research facility with the promise of tax revenue and new jobs for the city, Pfizer pulled out of New London in 2009, leaving the land undeveloped, the homeowners dispossessed, their homes demolished, the land bulldozed into a vacant lot that still sits empty. After being elected in 2011, New London’s mayor called it “black stain” on the town’s reputation in an apology to the homeowners.

I make no secret of the fact that I think Kelo is, if not the worst decision in the history of the court, certainly in the bottom five, and will possibly have more far reaching and damaging effects than some of the more well known judicial disasters such as Dred Scott. But can no good come of Kelo for the fine citizens of Connecticut? Read the entire article to find out the new plans for the now abandoned lands which the government “redistributed” for the greater good. The new mayor envisions a national first​—​a green, integrated mid-rise community, (translate that as you wish) with green, self-sustaining, solar powered buildings. That should fix everything.


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Turn it into an Obamaville. With signs and everything.

“This tract of land brought to you by socialism. Keep out”

BobMbx on April 19, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Like in the great state of New York, I suspect conservatives need not apply.

diogenes on April 19, 2014 at 3:17 PM

The new mayor envisions a national first​—​a green, integrated mid-rise community, (translate that as you wish) with green, self-sustaining, solar powered buildings.

Translation: an opportunity for taxpayer funded graft going to the mayor’s cronies. Who will kick back to his reelection campaign.

rbj on April 19, 2014 at 3:18 PM

Artist Battles City Of Philadelphia To Save Property Taken By Eminent Domain April 17, 2014 3:20 PM

“Dupree says a couple of years after he bought the property, there were rumblings that the city had plans to acquire the studio and several nearby parcels to make way for a supermarket. When time passed and nothing happened, he says he let it go. Then in December 2012, the city used eminent domain to condemn Dupree’s studios. He contested the measure.”

Not a highway, not a reservoir, but a supermarket.

Equal protection for me, but not for thee.

Akzed on April 19, 2014 at 3:20 PM

It will just be another vacant lot. I’d bet money on it and I don’t have much to bet.

crankyoldlady on April 19, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Until last year we lived near there and used to walk our dogs regularly there and the adjoining Ft. Trumbull State park. It used to be a nice neighborhood and a very nice place to walk our dogs right on the Thames River. We went one last time in April 2013 before we moved to Kentucky and let me tell you that arae sits overgrown and abandoned and is a total disgrace to our Court System.

There is one person mostly to blame for this disaster, Claire L. Gaudiani. She was President of the NLDC at the time of the taking. She was also President of Connecticut College right up the road from Fort Trumbull and along with her husband had a web of economic ties with people that stood to gain some benefit from Pfizer taking the Fort Trumbull peninsula. She is a Socialist who wrote the book called “The Greater Good”.

The last part of this statement from her during the first hearings pretty much sums up her thinking:

“New London needed the generosity of a small set of people who were offered fair and significant money for their homes and almost all of them agreed and made the sacrifice to move. Those who didn’t were led to use the court system to frustrate the will of the majority who chose the greater good — that is the larger benefit of the larger number of New Londoners.”

Johnnyreb on April 19, 2014 at 3:26 PM

The Kelo decision is unforgivable, and to my mind clear evidence that our political system is corrupt beyond redemption.

M240H on April 19, 2014 at 3:28 PM

“Lyast year, the oil companies made reckerd prahfits. I wanna take those prahfits….!”

Lanceman on April 19, 2014 at 3:28 PM

This one always amazed me, those for the people Lib judges sticking it to the common man for the good of the private developers. Apologies don’t cut it either. Those homes should be rebuilt for the original owners and paid for by the local and Federal Government for the massive screwing they got. Worst decision by SCOTUS ever or at least in the top five.

major dad on April 19, 2014 at 3:30 PM

I hope that land stands vacant for eternity. As a symbol of government over reach and the idiocy of the Supreme Court. Let the feral cats have it. They will never pay taxes to government that tried so hard to take it away.

kringeesmom on April 19, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Hold it. New Hampshire. That’s the libfreeordie state. Innit?

Lanceman on April 19, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Johnnyreb on April 19, 2014 at 3:26 PM

Thanks for that info.

Undoubtedly, Ms. Gaudiani would have no objection then if the majority of Americans voted to take the lives of the minority of women named Claire — it obviously being for the “greater good” (more foodstamps for the rest of us!) …

ShainS on April 19, 2014 at 3:34 PM

The creep of gummint/private takeover of private property for cronies and the new Oligarch Class will accelerate in direct proportion to the indoctrination/dumbing down of the ‘electorate’. As elderly Patriots die out, their ‘inheritors’ will fall victim to the above, but they will be too stupid to realize it. The good news? Once everyone but the super rich (95% of the public) is on ‘welfare’, everything will be ‘free’, especially forced servitude.

vnvet on April 19, 2014 at 3:36 PM

I wonder what the grazing fees are on that vacant lot?

trigon on April 19, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Kelo doesn’t actually change anything in the Constitution. It’s very narrowly decided.

Stevens’ opinion is not a majority opinion. It was only joined by three other justices while four opposed it. Kennedy joined with a very limited concurrence, which quite clearly applied ONLY to that case and no other. So there is no precedent set.

It was a bad decision anyway, but the effect is limited and it would be easier to overturn because it would NOT be a “reversal.”

Well, if people would stop staying home as a “protest” that their candidate didn’t win the primary, it could be overturned. As long as the faithless “Republicans If They Win, Only” won’t support the nominee for their own reasons, Democrats like Obama will keep getting elected and naming judges like Sotomayor and Kagan.

Adjoran on April 19, 2014 at 3:44 PM

I wonder what the grazing fees are on that vacant lot?

trigon on April 19, 2014 at 3:38 PM

You can’t graze there, it’s the home of the endangered New London gnat. Why, the whole ecosystem of that vacant lot would be upset with the loss of the rarely seen New London gnat.

rbj on April 19, 2014 at 3:44 PM

I wonder what the grazing fees are on that vacant lot?

trigon on April 19, 2014 at 3:38 PM

You kidding? Prolly off limits due to it now being home to the endangered articulated mole cricket or something.

Lanceman on April 19, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Here, let me close the </sarcasm> tag.

Steve Eggleston on April 19, 2014 at 3:45 PM

rbj on April 19, 2014 at 3:44 PM

Heh. Great minds and all that.

Lanceman on April 19, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Hold it. New Hampshire. That’s the libfreeordie state. Innit?

Lanceman on April 19, 2014 at 3:33 PM

?? Did I miss something? Kelo was vs New London which is in Connecticut.

Oldnuke on April 19, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Between Kelo and ACA, the SCOTUS has rubberstamped tyranny.

It won’t be long before the powertripping goons in DC take almost everything you have(KELO) and force you to do as they dictate with what little leftover they “kindly” leave you (ACA).

Smegley on April 19, 2014 at 3:49 PM

Heh. Great minds and all that.

Lanceman on April 19, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Indeed.

rbj on April 19, 2014 at 3:51 PM

Johnnyreb on April 19, 2014 at 3:26 PM

Gaudiani’s husband was also a Pfizer vice-president.

Wethal on April 19, 2014 at 3:52 PM

Artist Battles City Of Philadelphia To Save Property Taken By Eminent Domain April 17, 2014 3:20 PM

“Dupree says a couple of years after he bought the property, there were rumblings that the city had plans to acquire the studio and several nearby parcels to make way for a supermarket. When time passed and nothing happened, he says he let it go. Then in December 2012, the city used eminent domain to condemn Dupree’s studios. He contested the measure.”

Not a highway, not a reservoir, but a supermarket.

Equal protection for me, but not for thee.

Akzed on April 19, 2014 at 3:20 PM

No matter, as long as the Supermarket pays more in property taxes than the original properties, the government is now entitled to snatch it.

slickwillie2001 on April 19, 2014 at 3:59 PM

They should put up a sign there saying “John Paul Stevens Park”.

slickwillie2001 on April 19, 2014 at 4:01 PM

?? Did I miss something? Kelo was vs New London which is in Connecticut.

Oldnuke on April 19, 2014 at 3:48 PM

You are prolly right. When it comes to the northeastern seaboard, I consider the whole thing liberalville not worthy of attempts at differentiation.

But isn’t Connecticut the Constitution State, then?

Lanceman on April 19, 2014 at 4:12 PM

Gaudiani’s husband was also a Pfizer vice-president.

Wethal on April 19, 2014 at 3:52 PM

Thank you, I was trying to remember exactly what his role was in that whole mess but it has been awhile. I do know they made some money and moved away not too long after the case was decided by SCOTUS but before Pfizer screwed New London by closing down almost everything on the Peninsula that they got ginourmous tax breaks for and left.

Johnnyreb on April 19, 2014 at 4:14 PM

From Wikipedia:

The final cost to the city and state for the purchase and bulldozing of the formerly privately held property was $78 million.[18] The promised 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues had not materialized.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelo_v._City_of_New_London

patch on April 19, 2014 at 4:18 PM

One of, if not THE, worst decisions of the SCOTUS in my lifetime. Terrible. We have come so far (/s) since our founding as a nation of laws with respect for the inalienable rights of individuals. So far (/s).

Ugh. That the SCOTUS has been populated by a Republican-nominated majority for decades (TWELVE of the last sixteen justices…yes, I know, nine on the court at a time…was a Republican nominee) is further evidence that there just isn’t any political party looking out for my interests as an everyday citizen.

xNavigator on April 19, 2014 at 4:20 PM

xNavigator on April 19, 2014 at 4:20 PM

While we all agree that H.W. was lazy in appointing Souter, I think it’s safe to say we were all surprised by Roberts, who apparently was so easily bought/threatened/blackmailed.

Just goes to show how insidious leftism is. Freedom requires vigilance, and that needed to have started with public education at least 60 years ago.

Lanceman on April 19, 2014 at 4:26 PM

I once attended a lecture by Justice Scalia, and one of the topics he discussed was Kelo v. City of New London. He was still visibly angry when he talked about it.

merlich on April 19, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Everyone of the liberal bast_rds who voted for Kelo should have been impeached.

cajunpatriot on April 19, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Hold it. New Hampshire. That’s the libfreeordie state. Innit?

Lanceman on April 19, 2014 at 3:33 PM

…no!…he’s toking on THC and sucking on chubs…in Colorado…oh wait!…your not talking about………..ok……..never mind………..same thing!

KOOLAID2 on April 19, 2014 at 4:33 PM

you’re

KOOLAID2 on April 19, 2014 at 4:35 PM

The Kelo verses City of New London decision was when I first realized that the Supreme Court is bought and paid for just like the rest of the federal government and that the American people no longer have any representation unless their wishes happen to coincide with the oligarchy.

FloatingRock on April 19, 2014 at 4:39 PM

and will possibly have more far reaching and damaging effects than some of the more well known judicial disasters such as Dred Scott.

Interesting note on the Dred Scott case: it was all set up by his owners, more or less as an activist attempt to get the court to rule that the Fugitive Slave Act was unconstitutional.

Count to 10 on April 19, 2014 at 4:42 PM

There’s a lot of Stupid in CT, and it didn’t start, nor end, with Kelo.

Another Drew on April 19, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Eminent domain was a necessary evil 50 or 100 years ago, when we were building turnpikes, highways, tunnels and bridges. No more private property should be taken, no matter what it’s for. We don’t need any more steps towards Marxism.

ImmigrantsWife on April 19, 2014 at 5:06 PM

I’m still waiting for some pol to make a case and take Steven’s home via eminent domain. All for the ‘public good’ of course.

GarandFan on April 19, 2014 at 5:13 PM

?? Did I miss something? Kelo was vs New London which is in Connecticut.

Oldnuke on April 19, 2014 at 3:48 PM

I think he’s talking about this.

Every liberal justice should have this done to them until the decision is overturned.

blammm on April 19, 2014 at 5:20 PM

major dad on April 19, 2014 at 3:30 PM
-
Even better, perhaps those Justice’s that voted for it should pay the reparations.

diogenes on April 19, 2014 at 5:35 PM

I think he’s talking about this.

Every liberal justice should have this done to them until the decision is overturned.

blammm on April 19, 2014 at 5:20 PM

See what I mean about the upper NE seaboard being a monolith?

Lanceman on April 19, 2014 at 5:52 PM

Read the entire article to find out the new plans for the now abandoned lands which the government “redistributed” for the greater good. The new mayor envisions a national first​—​a green, integrated mid-rise community, (translate that as you wish) with green, self-sustaining, solar powered buildings. That should fix everything.

Yeah, because pouring an endless amount of the seized assets of the enslaved citizenry (taxes) has always worked so well during the entire history of the Urban renewal movement.

massrighty on April 19, 2014 at 5:52 PM

The city of New London paid for the lawyers to defend their eminent domain claim, they paid Kelo and the residents something for their property (even if it was under-market), they paid to have the homes bulldozed, they’ve lost the tax revenue from the residents they would have gotten, they have to spend time and money trying to attract an alternative purchaser, and they have to maintain the property they’ve seized.

Just how much did this work of liberal central planning brilliance cost the taxpayers of New London? And when are the courts going to stop granting government the presumption of knowing what the hell they’re doing when they displace private citizens and businesses?

Socratease on April 19, 2014 at 5:57 PM

After being elected in 2011, New London’s mayor called it “black stain” on the town’s reputation in an apology to the homeowners.

Us Catholics have a whole process in place for situtations like this.

First, you admit your sin — you stole their property.

Second, you ask forgiveness for your sin.

Third, you make restitution for your sin. And restitution is the painful part — if possible, you perform restitution (penance) in a way which makes right the wrong that you have done.

It’s obvious what the penance should be in this case — full restoration of their property to the original homeowners or their heirs, and rebuilding what was demolished.

It doesn’t matter that you paid them something they didn’t want for the property. They get to keep that — and get their property back.

And green (?), integrated (hmm, what does that word mean — were previous mid-rise (?) communities in New London un-integrated?), mid-rise communities do not cut the mustard — not unless every single property owner New London dispossessed agrees to that form of restitution.

unclesmrgol on April 19, 2014 at 6:09 PM

According to a report by Jeff Jacoby for the Boston Globe, the homes belonged to people like “Susette Kelo, a local nurse who bought her little Victorian cottage on the Thames River because she loved its waterfront view; Wilhelmina Dery, who was born in her house on Walbach Street in 1918 and had been living there all her life.”

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2014/03/20/9-years-after-SCOTUS-Kelo-ruling-houses-seized-under-eminent-domain-remain-undeveloped/2761395347859/

unclesmrgol on April 19, 2014 at 6:16 PM

Well, if people would stop staying home as a “protest” that their candidate didn’t win the primary, it could be overturned. As long as the faithless “Republicans If They Win, Only” won’t support the nominee for their own reasons, Democrats like Obama will keep getting elected and naming judges like Sotomayor and Kagan.

Adjoran

You mean so we can get justices like Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer instead, two REPUBLICAN APPOINTED justices who voted for Kelo? Yeah, let’s just elect any old person who has an R after their name. Who cares what they actually believe in, simply having an R after their name guarantees they will do the right thing, lol.

xblade on April 19, 2014 at 6:19 PM

Should be David Souter instead of Breyer.

xblade on April 19, 2014 at 6:21 PM

Kelo doesn’t actually change anything in the Constitution. It’s very narrowly decided.

Prior to Kelo, the government could only take land for its use. Now, it can take your land to give it to someone else. It’s a perversion of the ‘Takings Clause.’

Stevens’ opinion is not a majority opinion. It was only joined by three other justices while four opposed it. Kennedy joined with a very limited concurrence, which quite clearly applied ONLY to that case and no other. So there is no precedent set.

You are wrong. Kennedy did join in Stevens’ opinion, so the decision is mandatory precedent. He also wrote a concurring opinion. SCOTUS Justices often do that.

Well, if people would stop staying home as a “protest” that their candidate didn’t win the primary, it could be overturned. As long as the faithless “Republicans If They Win, Only” won’t support the nominee for their own reasons, Democrats like Obama will keep getting elected and naming judges like Sotomayor and Kagan.

What xblade said.

Ted the Average on April 19, 2014 at 6:34 PM

This, the Obamacare decision and Roe vs. Wade are probably the three worst decisions in the history of the court.

Theophile on April 19, 2014 at 6:49 PM

Third, you make restitution for your sin. And restitution is the painful part — if possible, you perform restitution (penance) in a way which makes right the wrong that you have done.

It’s obvious what the penance should be in this case — full restoration of their property to the original homeowners or their heirs, and rebuilding what was demolished.

It doesn’t matter that you paid them something they didn’t want for the property. They get to keep that — and get their property back.
unclesmrgol on April 19, 2014 at 6:09 PM

So throw more good money (ours) after bad?

8 weight on April 19, 2014 at 7:27 PM

The fascists march on while patriots sleep.

God save the Republic.

locomotivebreath1901 on April 19, 2014 at 7:42 PM

But isn’t Connecticut the Constitution State, then?

Lanceman on April 19, 2014 at 4:12 PM

Yeah, I think it’s called that. Unfortunately it’s full of progressives. But then like you said the whole Northeast is jammed up with it. Working it’s way down my way too. I’m afraid Virginia is lost. Too many immigrants from other states sucking on Uncle Sugar’s teats.

That link blammm provided was a good one. I remember when that group was working to take Steven’s house. Doomed to failure but I think he did have to actively oppose it and retain legal counsel. I remember all the local politicians were aghast that the finding he helped facilitate would be used against him.

Oldnuke on April 19, 2014 at 8:19 PM

“Men In Black”, by Mark Levin chronicles the lunacy and history of the SCOTUS. It is a MUST READ for anyone who watches the antics of the justices……….

ultracon on April 19, 2014 at 8:41 PM

Third, you make restitution for your sin. And restitution is the painful part — if possible, you perform restitution (penance) in a way which makes right the wrong that you have done.

It’s obvious what the penance should be in this case — full restoration of their property to the original homeowners or their heirs, and rebuilding what was demolished.

It doesn’t matter that you paid them something they didn’t want for the property. They get to keep that — and get their property back.

unclesmrgol on April 19, 2014 at 6:09 PM

Exactly. The government stole it, failed to use it, now must restore the property to its original condition and return it to its original owners.

talkingpoints on April 19, 2014 at 11:08 PM

Once again, it’s possible to get this in the political realm. We have blue states what do this stuff and Republicans don’t call them on it. Run on it. You can bet your bottom dollar the Democrats would. Kelo isn’t popular with anyone and the Republicans remain silent.

Elect me and I’ll put forward a law that actually defines what and how land should be taken by imminent domain. The point is, there are reasons to do it, but they should be limited in scope. Show me a politician that’s willing to commit to that and I’ll vote for him/her.

bflat879 on April 19, 2014 at 11:27 PM

No matter, as long as the Supermarket pays more in property taxes than the original properties, the government is now entitled to snatch it.

slickwillie2001 on April 19, 2014 at 3:59 PM

They need not pay. There has to be a plan. The Supreme Court said the the plan need not be followed.

David Blue on April 19, 2014 at 11:41 PM

This, the Obamacare decision and Roe vs. Wade are probably the three worst decisions in the history of the court.

Theophile on April 19, 2014 at 6:49 PM

They are all terrible. Of these, I think Roe v. Wade was the worst. One that no one’s mentioned here which I believe is just as bad as Roe is Wickard v. Filburn.

non-nonpartisan on April 20, 2014 at 2:14 AM

Hum, this sounds tough yet rational. “No matter, as long as the Supermarket pays more in property taxes than the original properties, the government is now entitled to snatch it.”

But the Barrie family (Andy and Ceil Barrie, plus kids) with a mountain cabin in Colorado surrounded by forests were just forced to sell to county and that property will no longer pay ANY property taxes. (The taxes would be paid by county to itself?) Nor will it be further developed. Indeed, it will likely revert to nature, as the building is slowly demolished via decay and weather.

While Kelo was no Dred Scott or Roe vs. Wade; it was among the next worst.

SomeDude on April 20, 2014 at 5:47 PM

The SCOTUS has been responsible for some truly IDIOTIC pronouncements and ‘findings’ with respect to FUNDAMENTAL wording found in the Constitution. I’d venture to say that NONE of the so called erudite judges who made these decisions or wrote lengthly dribble in support of these ridiculous findings could win a debate with a gerbil.

Missilengr on April 20, 2014 at 8:29 PM

The new mayor envisions a national first​—​a green, integrated mid-rise community, (translate that as you wish) with green, self-sustaining, solar powered buildings.

Sounds like the mayor has willingly signed on to UN Agenda 21. Beware “sustainability.”

Thoughtyman on April 21, 2014 at 9:33 AM