This is excerpted from an LA Times story on the case -- Kennedy was the swing man...
In today's decision, the court went a step further and said officials need not claim they were condemning blighted properties or clearing slums. Now, as long as officials hope to create jobs or raise tax collections, they can seize the homes of unwilling sellers, the court said. This "public purpose" is a "public use" of the land, the court said in Kelo vs. New London.
The justices said they were unwilling to "second guess" local officials on what is best for their communities.
"Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government," said Justice John Paul Stevens.
Judges should give city councils and state legislatures "broad latitude in determining what public needs justify the use of the takings power," he added.
Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer joined him.
The dissenters said the court was ignoring the basic rights to private property that were written into the Constitution.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said all property was now potentially subject to seizure.
"Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory," she said.
Justice Clarence Thomas said that the impact of these redevelopment plans falls heaviest on the poor, minorities and the elderly.
"Over 97% of the individuals forcibly removed from their homes by the 'slum clearance' project upheld by this court (in 1954) were black," Thomas said.
Suzette Kelo, the New London, Conn. homeowner who sued to save her home, said she was "very disappointed the court sided with powerful government and business interests."
Dana Berliner, one of her attorneys at the Institute for Justice in Washington, called it a "dark day for American homeowners. Every home, small business or church would produce more taxes as a shopping center or office building. And according to the court, that's good enough reason for eminent domain."
Think about this for a second. Whenever the government thinks it can raise tax revenues, it can force property owners to sell to developers at depressed prices (the result of a forced sale). That is no kind of restraint at all. This does to the Emminent Domain Clause what Wickard v. Filburn did to any restrictions on Congress' Commerce Clause Power.
I'm beginning to think it would be a good idea to start over -- just by wiping out all USSC precedents and enforcing original intent of the Constitution going forward...