We thank the Castle Coalition folks for calling to our attention the fact that the intensity of public opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2005 5 to 4 decision in Kelo v. City of New London continues unabated. A recent public opinion survey indicates that 80% of those polled disapprove of the court’s decision that in spite of the “public use” limitation on the use of eminent domain, found in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the power of eminent domain may be used to take unoffending private property from its rightful owners and turn it over gratis to other private individuals or entities for their private economic gain. The Court accepted uncritically New London’s assertions that the creation of new, upscale condos and commercial enterprises on the land formerly occupied by the displaced lower middle-class folks whose homes were taken, would increase tax revenues, which, said the court, would be a “public benefit” which in turn the court deemed synonymous with the constitutionally required “public use.” At least that was the theory.
When the opinion came down, the vast majority of Americans — cutting across the political-ideological spectrum — reacted with anger, with some 90% of the people strongly disapproving of the Court’s handiwork. We were kind of skeptical about how long that would last because public anger over court decisions tends to dissipate with time. But evidently, not this time.
The report was prepared by a group of professors from Harvard and Columbia Universities and can be found on line at http://www.law.columbia.edu/null?&exclusive=filemgr.download&file_id=55737&rtcontentdisposition=filename%3DPersily
For commentary on the report and its significance go to the post of Professor Ilya Somin of George Mason University who has been following and writing about the topic of the “Kelo backlash” for a while. Go to http://volokh.com/2010/11/23/new-survey-data-on-public-attitudes-towards-kelo-and-economic-development-takings/
Though we hope that most of our readers already know this, it bears mention that in spite of the Supreme Court’s twaddle about the high quality of New London’s [re]development plans, the New London project proved to be a total failure that consumed upwards of $80 million of the taxpayers’ funds with nothing, absolutely nothing, to show for it.