Friday, November 13, 2009

Remember the KELO decision?

Well, it's just backfired on the City of New London, Connecticut. According to the Wall Street Journal:

The Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London stands as one of the worst in recent years, handing local governments carte blanche to seize private property in the name of economic development. Now, four years after that decision gave Susette Kelo's land to private developers for a project including a hotel and offices intended to enhance Pfizer Inc.'s nearby corporate facility, the pharmaceutical giant has announced it will close its research and development headquarters in New London, Connecticut.

The aftermath of Kelo is the latest example of the futility of using eminent domain as corporate welfare. While Ms. Kelo and her neighbors lost their homes, the city and the state spent some $78 million to bulldoze private property for high-end condos and other "desirable" elements. Instead, the wrecked and condemned neighborhood still stands vacant, without any of the touted tax benefits or job creation.

That's especially galling because the five Supreme Court Justices cited the development plan as a major factor in rationalizing their Kelo decision. Justice Anthony Kennedy called the plan "comprehensive," while Justice John Paul Stevens insisted that "The city has carefully formulated a development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including, but not limited to, new jobs and increased tax revenue." So much for that.

Kelo's silver lining has been that it transformed eminent domain from an arcane government power into a major concern of voters who suddenly wonder if their own homes are at risk.

There's more at the link.

So, after I don't know how many millions of dollars in lawyers' fees to get the Kelo decision in the first place, plus another $78 million in infrastructure expenses, the City of New London is left with bupkis. I can't think of a more appropriate conclusion to this farce.

Now, if we can just reinforce the right of people to be secure in their own property, and diminish the power of the state to evict them for its own ends . . . Mr. President, are you listening? You seem to want people to own their homes. How about helping them to keep them in the face of threats from greedy local politicians?


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