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.