Monday, April 17, 2017

N is for New London

Kelo v New London 
[June 23, 2005, decision 5-4]

Suzette Kelo and other property owners sued the City of New London, Connecticut over its redevelopment plan.  The plan required taking their private property by eminent domain, not for a public use but to give it to another private entity.  By doing this, the city hoped to increase employment and tax revenues, and revitalize an economically distressed city which would, it argued, be a public use.

The Supreme Court decided the taking was for a “public purpose”, which expanded the definition of “public use”.  Therefore, so long as the property owners were compensated for their loss, this action did not violate the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause - “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Public reaction to the decision was widespread and highly unfavorable.  The city can take someone's property [so long at it pays fair compensation] and give it to a private entity like Wal-Mart?

The controversy was eventually settled when the city paid substantial additional compensation to the homeowners and agreed to move Kelo’s home to a new location.  Most of the homeowners left New London for nearby communities.

In spite of repeated efforts, the redeveloper was unable to obtain financing, and the redevelopment project was abandoned.  After Hurricane Irene in 2011, the now-closed New London redevelopment area was turned into a dump for storm debris.  As of February 2014, it was still vacant.  No new employment or tax revenue, and no revitalization, has occurred in that area.

Prior to Kelo, seven states specifically prohibited the use of eminent domain for economic development, except to eliminate blight.  In response to Kelo, as of June 2012, 42 states had enacted some type of legislation limiting eminent domain.  Only eight states had not passed laws to limit the power of eminent domain for economic development.

Did you guess right?
Here's Tuesday's hint - O is for Obergefell.  Can you guess the case and what it's about?  Leave a comment!


  1. Wow, I'd never heard of that case. And its outcome stuns me. Shame on you, justices, several of you who are no doubt still handing down decisions.

    And ... I was woefully wrong.

    1. Not entirely wrong. You correctly identified the state where this New London was located.


  2. I am old enough to remember when the city of Detroit took property for freeway construction and new auto plants. And now we all know how successful that was. I was not aware of this case. BTW, I am watching Gideon's Trumpet while I write this.

    1. Freeway construction is a classic public use. Not so much the auto plants. Yes, Detroit isn't experiencing too much success right now.

      Please post later and let me know whether you enjoyed Gideon's Trumpet.

    2. It was very good. It is also a prime example of how the police latch onto a suspect and then decide he is the guilty one and don't pursue it further. I wondered from the beginning what that guy was doing hanging around when the cops arrived. Good for Mr. Gideon and kudos to the justices who saw how unfair the Florida law was. I was wondering if those 5000 men in jail without lawyers were released.

      There is quite a controversy going on here about men who are in prison still even though DNA evidence has shown they were not guilty.

  3. So I wonder if Trump is going to claim eminent domain when he takes all these folks' land to build this fantasy wall of his....
    Impromptu Promptlings
    A to Z Challenge Letter N