Wednesday, June 23, 2010

5 Years After Kelo

Today marks the fifth anniversary of one of the worst decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court, a decision in the same league as Plessy v. Ferguson, Dred Scott, Wickard v. Filburn, and the Slaughterhouse Cases.

On June 23, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled in Kelo v. New London that it is permissible for the government to use eminent domain to seize one person's property and give it to another.  The recipient is almost invariably wealthier and better connected politically than the victim of the seizure.

In this video (below) from the Institute for Justice, which litigated the case all the way to the Supreme Court, we find out what has happened since Kelo.

The good news is that the American people demanded that laws be made to reject the Kelo decision.  Across the country, state legislatures have passed statutes or even constitutional amendments to protect people against eminent domain abuse.  (In Virginia, the law is somewhat better than it was but still weaker than it should be.)

The bad news -- sadly ironic news -- is that the situation that started it all, Pfizer's demand that the city of New London, Connecticut, destroy a working-class neighborhood to create housing for its high-paid executives, turned out to be moot.  Pfizer pulled out of the project, which was never built, and Suzette Kelo's former neighborhood is a desert, populated only -- as the video narrator notes -- by "feral cats."  New London took a vibrant cityscape and turned it into blight.

You can see my initial, shocked reaction to Kelo here, where I quote dissents from Justice Sandra Day O'Connorand Justice Clarence Thomas, and also quote IJ attorneys Scott Bullock and Dana Berliner, who are featured in the video you just watched. (You did watch it, didn't you?)

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