The Supreme Court has just released an opinion ruling that local governments may seize private residences and property for local economic development.  

The 5-4 ruling represented a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.
*  *  *
Susette Kelo and several other homeowners in a working-class neighborhood in New London, Connecticut, filed suit after city officials announced plans to raze their homes for a riverfront hotel, health club and offices.

That’s right.  Your home is in an area where some private developer wants to build a shopping mall? Too bad.

“The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including — but by no means limited to — new jobs and increased tax revenue,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority.

Justice Stevens’ majority opinion was joined by Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer.

O’Connor (joined by Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas) wrote the dissenting opinion arguing that

cities should not have unlimited authority to uproot families, even if they are provided compensation, simply to accommodate wealthy developers.

The lower courts had been divided on the issue, with many allowing a taking only if it eliminates blight.

“Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random,” O’Connor wrote. “The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.”

I do not know what your opinion may be on this, but I find it deeply disturbing to think that a local government can take my property (oh sure, they will pay me for it, and I’m sure I’ll get paid what it’s worth) and let a developer build something on it.  Perhaps, someday, my 40 acre property will be taken from me so that a real estate developer can build a subdivision on it! I’m thrilled!
Anyway, as Justice O’Conner implied, the wealthy people won’t have their homes taken away.  

I never thought I would agree with Scalia and Thomas (I have agreed with Rehnquist at times).

0 0 votes
Article Rating