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Opening Arguments


Happy anniversary, Kelo:


Ten years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued one of the most destructive and appalling decisions of the modern era. In Kelo v. City of New London, a 5-4 majority allowed a local government to bulldoze a working-class neighborhood so that private developers would have a blank slate on which to build a luxury hotel, a conference center, and various other upscale amenities. The city’s goal was to erase that existing community and replace it with a new commercial district that would (hopefully) fill the local coffers with more abundant tax dollars. According to the Supreme Court, this unsavory land grab qualified as a legitimate use of the city’s eminent domain powers because the city “has carefully formulated an economic development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community.”

There are a lot of contenders for "worst Supreme Court decision of the modern era." A lot of people on the right would say 1973's Roe v. Wade, and the Roberts' court's upholding of Obasmacare would get a lot of votes. To me, it's the Kelo decision, which pretty much destroyed the whole concept of private property, the last line of defense against an all-intrusive government. It's  small comfort that some states, including Indina, have worked to strengthen property rights and put constraints on eminent domain. As long as Kelo stands, the Constitution is gutted.

That development never happened, by the way. The site homeowners were kicked off of is now empty, "a depressing monument to the folly of' 'expert' government planning."