Kelo Abuse: That Didn't Take Long

The Institute for Justice is asking the Supreme Court to rehear the Kelo case, arguing that in just the few weeks since the decision was handed down, much has changed that should make them reconsider their decision. It's a desperate move, not likely to succeed, but they have a point about what has happened in the last 3 weeks:

As the petition points out as the first basis for the rehearing, the floodgates to eminent domain abuse have already begun to swing open. "Justice O'Connor predicted a world in which a Motel 6 can be taken for a Ritz-Carlton, and homes for a shopping mall," said Dana Berliner, a senior attorney at the Institute and co-counsel in the Kelo case. "The majority wrongly dismissed these as hypotheticals when in fact such takings are already occurring throughout the country."

Among many other examples of lower-tax producing businesses being taken for higher-tax producing ones just since the Supreme Court's ruling, the Institute for Justice cited:

* Hours after the Kelo decision, officials in Freeport, Texas, began legal filings to seize two family-owned seafood companies to make way for a more upscale business: an $8 million private boat marina.

* Homes are already being taken for shopping malls. On July 12, 2005, Sunset Hills, Mo., voted to allow the condemnation of 85 homes and small businesses. This is the first step in allowing the private Novus Development Corp. to use eminent domain against the property owners to build a planned $165 million shopping center and office complex. Also in Missouri, the City of Arnold plans to take 30 homes and 15 small businesses, including the Arnold Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post, for a Lowe's and a strip mall.

And this really is just the tip of the iceberg. You can find details on the literally hundreds and hundreds of such cases around the country in this report from the Castle Coalition, organized state by state.

More like this

These are probably projects that were put on hold until Kelo was decided.

According to an AP report that I read a few weeks ago, Walmart and other big stores have been using ED for years to build stores on the east coast where people have the nerve to own houses in prime commercial areas.

Apparantly they haven't used ED on the west coast because union issues are a greater concern than land for building a big-box store.

Reed wrote:

These are probably projects that were put on hold until Kelo was decided.

Yes, they were, and in many cases there were trials put on hold to await the decision.

Apparantly they haven't used ED on the west coast because union issues are a greater concern than land for building a big-box store.

If only that were true. The Castle Coalition lists over 230 instances of condemnation alone being used in an ED case to seize property for private use. That's one of the most active states in the nation.

A day after the Kelo decision was delivered, Freestar Media LLC submitted a proposal in the town of Weare, New Hampshire where majority opinion writer, Justice Souter, owns a farm house. They requested that the town board condemn the land and give it to them, as private developers, who promise to construct the Lost Liberty Hotel in its place. Their tax revenue would no doubt be higher than the reported $2,500 that Justice Souter paid in property taxes last year. It would create employment and attract tourism. The town has a website, and an economic development committee, which has identified its two main goals: 1) Encourage the formation of new businesses, and 2) Promote tourism. However, contrary to its stated goals and the legally sanctioned purpose of economic development, the town's board turned down the proposal.

So much for poetic justice. Justice Souter's influence in his community shielded him from his own ruling. No other rational justification can be found.

Thankfully, the legislative branch is now busy at work attempting to shield private property rights from the Supreme Court ruling. It seems that the two may have switched roles, with the House defending the Constitution, and the Supreme Court writing new laws.

I thought I saw Alice the other day! Or maybe it was Justice Souter -skipping in Wonderland, immune to and above the laws he passes.