Kelo v. City of New London

Supreme Court Weighs Eminent Domain Case

February 22, 2005 8:03 a.m.
WASHINGTON (AP)–Residents trying to hang onto their homes in a working class neighborhood of New London, Conn., are waging a battle in the U.S. Supreme Court over their city government’s attempt to seize property for private economic development.
Susette Kelo and several other homeowners filed a lawsuit after city officials announced plans to bulldoze their residences to clear the way for a riverfront hotel, health club and offices. The residents refused to move, arguing it was an unconstitutional taking of their property.
The case’s outcome will have significant implications for so-called eminent domain actions.
There have been over 10,000 instances in recent years of private property being threatened with condemnation or actually condemned by government for private use, according to the Institute for Justice. The group represents the New London residents who filed the case.
The issue revolves around whether a government is serving a public purpose when it uses its power of eminent domain to take land. The Fifth Amendment prohibits taking private property for public use without just compensation. This case doesn’t involve compensation.
Over the years, the Supreme Court has deferred to the decision-making of elected state and local officials.
The court said in 1954 that it is legal for urban renewal to encompass non-blighted commercial buildings in a blighted neighborhood. In 1984, the court upheld Hawaii’s land reform law that broke the grip of large landowners, with property being taken and then resold to others.
More recently, many cities and towns have been accused of abusing their authority, razing nice homes to make way for parking lots for casinos and other tax-producing businesses.
New London, a town of less than 26,000, once was a center of the whaling industry and later became a manufacturing hub. More recently the city has suffered the kind of economic woes afflicting urban areas across the country, with losses of residents and jobs. City leaders say the private development will generate tax revenue and improve the local economy.
“The undisputed facts regarding the steady deterioration of New London’s economy from the 1970s onwards demonstrate the dire need for such a development project,” the city told the court.
The New London neighborhood that would be swept away includes Victorian-era houses and small businesses that in some instances have been owned by several generations of families.
Among the New London residents in the case is a couple in their 80s who have lived in the same home for over 50 years.
City officials envision a commercial development that would attract tourists to the Thames riverfront, complementing an adjoining Pfizer Corp. research center and a proposed Coast Guard museum.
Anthony Williams, who is president of the National League of Cities, says the power of eminent domain is one of the most important tools city officials have to rejuvenate their neighborhoods.
“Where would Baltimore be without the Inner Harbor, Kansas City without the Kansas Speedway, Canton, Miss., without its new Nissan plant?” Williams said.
The case is Kelo v. City of New London , 04-108.

Mixed Sympathy Over Eminent Domain

Supreme Court justices expressed sympathy yesterday with the plight of homeowners whose property may be condemned by local governments to make way for commercial development, Legal Times reports. The Connecticut case, Kelo v. City of New London , doesn’t challenge the typical “public use” power of eminent domain allowed by the Fifth Amendment, which enables cities and states to condemn property for highways, fire stations and the like, the magazine notes. Rather, New London resident Susette Kelo and others argue that power is being abused when cities take their homes for such uses as New London’s plans to complement a new Pfizer facility nearby, leasing it to private developers for $1 a year. Justice David Souter said “it bothers us a lot.” And Justice Antonin Scalia, reminding New London lawyer Wesley Horton that “you’re taking the home of someone who doesn’t want to sell,” asked: “That counts for nothing?” Mr. Horton replied yes.
The New York Times points out that with only seven justices on the bench – Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist is ill and John Paul Stevens had travel problems – “it was perhaps riskier than usual to extract likely decisions from the flow of arguments.” But the paper nonetheless says that despite the expressions of sympathy, the property-rights advocates seemed likely to come away disappointed. Several justices, it reports, “said they saw no way of adopting [Ms. Kelo’s] position without overturning decades of precedents that had endorsed the use of eminent domain for slum clearance, rail lines and public utilities.”

I can’t stand the arguement of fairness.

But how is it right to take what someone doesn’t want to sell only to give it to someone else?

Where would it stop?

If this is ok, what would prevent the use of emminant domain to take a second home (or a first) only to give it to someone say the homeless- ‘who deserves’ it more.

Check out the thread I started on this the other day, titled “Emminent Domain”

I actually just got out of watching a debate on that issue. The party on the one side was co-counsel at Tuesday’s oral arguments for the property owner and a local attorney argued for the city.

The debate was pretty interesting. I wasn’t impressed with the attorney for the homeowner. She was soft spoken and didn’t really come back all that well to some of the attacks by the guy on the side of the city.

There are points to be made on each side. Clearly, you don’t want the government just taking property at will. At the same time, if you were trying to build something reasonably necessary, a holdout essentially can force a monopoly price. Of course, my response to that would be that you can’t really have a monopoly price/houldout if the developer can simply go somewehre else.

Emminent domain is a necessary evil at certain times (i.e. building a highway, necessary civil developments such as utilities or water access), but taking from Peter because Paul will give you a bigger kickback (via taxes) would have made our forefathers sick.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
Check out the thread I started on this the other day, titled “Emminent Domain”[/quote]

Sorry dude. I quickly scanned for a related thread, guess I missed it.

[quote]Cory089 wrote:
Emminent domain is a necessary evil at certain times (i.e. building a highway, necessary civil developments such as utilities or water access), but taking from Peter because Paul will give you a bigger kickback (via taxes) would have made our forefathers sick.[/quote]

Agreed. If they need to build a road, that’s cool. But you can’t take it away to give land to a developer. That’s just wrong.

This has developed a flood of calls on talk radio. A guy up in Akron said the city was using this to take his commercial property in a run down part of town. But the city didn’t have the money to cover the purchase price they agreed to pay. That money was to come from the developer directly.

This is the group that is litigating the case for the homeowners – you can find some good emminent domain info on their website:


when you look into it, this is more common than you think.

just like when you think you live in a good neighborhood and then you get a letter from the sheriff giving required notice for megan’s law.

this is a seperate topic altogether, but sexual predators are EVERYWHERE.