Second Thoughts On Kelo

When the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Kelo v. City of New London a week or two ago, it was greeted with outrage by nearly everyone on the right, including us. However, a careful reading of the opinion and related case law, and some further investigation of the underlying facts, convinced me that reaction to the case was overblown. The project at issue in Kelo was a typical mixed-use economic development project. The proposition argued for by the petitioners was quite radical: use of eminent domain by a city in furtherance of an economic development project is per se unconstitutional. Adoption of such a rule would have been at odds, I think, with many decades of Supreme Court jurisprudence, and would have severely limited the ability of cities and other local government units to try to reverse urban decline by promoting redevelopment. My heretical views on the case are set out in this week’s Weekly Standard article: “Second Thoughts On Kelo.

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