In a move closely watched by suburban townships and housing advocates across the country, the Supreme Court came down against homeowners today in Susette Kelo v. City of New London in a 5-4 vote. Susette Kelo lives in a middle-class home in the city of New London. The city decided to claim eminent domain to seize her house and neighborhood to hand over to the New London Development Corporation, a private company who intents to use the property for private developments – specifically a development involving hotels and a marina.
At issue is determining whether or not there is any check to local governments claiming eminent domain as long as they are willing to compensate for whatever the property is worth. Let's clarify what this is not: (a) The intended use is not public (schools, roads, parks), or even for a third party developing a public use ("Taco Bell Presents: The Gordita Public Park"). It's entirely for the economic benefit of a third-party. This is a hurdle to jump – as the 5th amendment is pretty specific in saying – "nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation." (b) The land in question is not blighted – a word that has a legal and regulatory meaning. Blighted property can be grabbed for whatever reasons with compensation – as the Supreme Court has determined in 1953. The area is question are full of safe, comfortable, older-middle class homes.
Well The Supreme Court found in favor of the city and economic developers today.