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Kelo v. City of New London

Kelo v. New London
Argued February 22, 2005
Decided June 23, 2005
Full case name Susette Kelo, et al. v. City of New London, Connecticut, et al.
Docket nos. 04-108
Citations 545 U.S. 469 (more)
125 S. Ct. 2655; 162 L. Ed. 2d 439; 2005 U.S. LEXIS 5011; 60 ERC (BNA) 1769; 18 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 437
Prior history Judgment for defendants as regarding certain plaintiffs, judgment for remaining plaintiffs, Kelo v. City of New London, 2002 Conn. Super. LEXIS 789 (Conn. Super. Ct. Mar. 13, 2002); affirmed and reversed in part, remanded, 843 A.2d 500 (Conn. 2004); cert. granted, 542 U.S. 965 (2004)
Procedural history Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court of Connecticut
Subsequent history Rehearing denied, 126 S. Ct. 24 (2005)
Argument Oral argument
The governmental taking of property from one private owner to give to another in furtherance of economic development constitutes a permissible "public use" under the Fifth Amendment. Supreme Court of Connecticut decision affirmed.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Stevens, joined by Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer
Concurrence Kennedy
Dissent O'Connor, joined by Rehnquist, Scalia,
Dissent Thomas
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. V

Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005)[1] was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States involving the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another private owner to further economic development. In a 5–4 decision, the Court held that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified private redevelopment plans as a permissible "public use" under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

The case arose in the context of condemnation by the city of New London, Connecticut, of privately owned real property, so that it could be used as part of a “comprehensive redevelopment plan.” However, the private developer was unable to obtain financing and abandoned the redevelopment project, leaving the land as an empty lot, which was eventually turned into a temporary dump.[2]


  • Background 1
  • Opinion of the Court 2
    • Majority and concurring 2.1
    • Dissenting opinions 2.2
  • Subsequent developments 3
    • Public reaction 3.1
    • Presidential reaction 3.2
    • Congressional reaction 3.3
    • Scholarly reaction 3.4
    • State legislation 3.5
      • Arizona 3.5.1
      • California 3.5.2
      • Florida 3.5.3
      • Iowa 3.5.4
      • Kansas 3.5.5
      • Ohio 3.5.6
      • Michigan 3.5.7
      • Minnesota 3.5.8
      • Mississippi 3.5.9
      • Nevada 3.5.10
      • New Hampshire 3.5.11
      • Wisconsin 3.5.12
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States from a decision by the Supreme Court of Connecticut in favor of the City of New London. The owners, including lead plaintiff Susette Kelo, sued the city in Connecticut courts, arguing that the city had misused its eminent domain power. The power of eminent domain is limited by the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment says, in part, that "private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, this limitation also applies to the actions of state and local governments. The plaintiffs argued that economic development, the stated purpose of the taking and subsequent transfer of land to the New London Development Corporation, did not qualify as a public use under the Fifth Amendment.

The Connecticut Supreme Court heard arguments on December 2, 2002. The state court issued its decision (268 Conn. 1, SC16742) on March 9, 2004, siding with the city in a 4-3 decision, with the majority opinion authored by Justice Flemming L. Norcott, Jr., joined by Justices David M. Borden, Richard N. Palmer and Christine Vertefeuille.[3] Justice Peter T. Zarella wrote the dissent, joined by Chief Justice William J. Sullivan and Justice Joette Katz.[4]

The State Supreme Court held that the use of eminent domain for economic development did not violate the public use clauses of the state and federal constitutions. The court held that if a legislative body has found that an economic project will create new jobs, increase tax and other city revenues, and revitalize a depressed urban area (even if that area is not blighted), then the project serves a public purpose, which qualifies as a public use. The court also ruled that the government’s delegation of its eminent domain power to a private entity was constitutional under the Connecticut Constitution. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider questions raised in Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26 (1954) and later in Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff, 467 U.S. 229 (1984).[5] Namely, whether a "public purpose" constitutes a "public use" for purposes of the Fifth Amendment's Taking Clause: "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." Specifically, does the Fifth Amendment, applicable to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (see main article: Incorporation of the Bill of Rights), protect landowners from takings for economic development, rather than, as in Berman, for the elimination of slums and blight?

“Kelo” was the first major eminent domain case heard at the Supreme Court since 1984. In that time, states and municipalities had slowly extended their use of eminent domain, frequently to include economic development purposes. In the Kelo case, Connecticut had a statute allowing eminent domain for “economic development” even in the absence of blight. There was also an additional twist in that the development corporation was ostensibly a private entity; thus the plaintiffs argued that it was not constitutional for the government to take private property from one individual or corporation and give it to another, if the government was simply doing so because the repossession would put the property to a use that would generate higher tax revenue.

Kelo became the focus of vigorous discussion and attracted numerous supporters on both sides. Some 40 amicus curiae briefs were filed in the case, 25 on behalf of the petitioners.[6] Susette Kelo's supporters ranged from the libertarian Institute for Justice (the lead attorneys on the case) to the NAACP, AARP, the late Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference and South Jersey Legal Services. The latter groups signed an amicus brief arguing that eminent domain has often been used against politically weak communities with high concentrations of minorities and elderly. The case was argued on February 22, 2005. The case was heard by only seven members of the court with Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor presiding, as Chief Justice William Rehnquist was recuperating from medical treatment at home and Associate Justice John Paul Stevens was delayed on his return to Washington from Florida; both absent Justices read the briefs and oral argument transcripts and participated in the case decision.

During arguments, several of the Justices asked questions that forecast their ultimate positions on the case. Justice Antonin Scalia, for example, suggested that a ruling in favor of the city would destroy "the distinction between private use and public use," asserting that a private use which provided merely incidental benefits to the state was "not enough to justify use of the condemnation power."[7]

Opinion of the Court

Majority and concurring

On June 23, 2005, the Supreme Court, in a 5–4 decision, ruled in favor of the City of New London. Justice Stevens wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. Justice Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion setting out a more detailed standard for judicial review of economic development takings than that found in Stevens's majority opinion. In so doing, Justice Kennedy contributed to the Court's trend of turning minimum scrutiny—the idea that government policy need only bear a rational relation to a legitimate government purpose—into a fact-based test.

In Romer v. Evans, 517 US 620, the Court said that the government purpose must be "independent and legitimate." And in United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515, the Court said the government purpose "must be genuine, not hypothesized or invented post hoc in response to litigation." Thus, the Court made it clear that, in the scrutiny regime established in West Coast Hotel v. Parrish, 300 US 379 (1937), government purpose is a question of fact for the trier of fact.

Kennedy fleshed out this doctrine in his Kelo concurring opinion; he sets out a program of civil discovery in the context of a challenge to an assertion of government purpose. However, he does not explicitly limit these criteria to eminent domain, nor to minimum scrutiny, suggesting that they may be generalized to all health and welfare regulation in the scrutiny regime. Because Kennedy signed on to the Court's majority opinion, his concurrence is not binding on lower courts. He wrote:

A court confronted with a plausible accusation of impermissible favoritism to private parties should [conduct]... a careful and extensive inquiry into 'whether, in fact, the development plan [chronology] [1.] is of primary benefit to... the developer... and private businesses which may eventually locate in the plan area... [2.] and in that regard, only of incidental benefit to the city...'" Kennedy is also interested in facts of the chronology which show, with respect to government, [3.] awareness of... depressed economic condition and evidence corroborating the validity of this concern... [4.] the substantial commitment of public funds... before most of the private beneficiaries were known... [5.] evidence that [government] reviewed a variety of development plans... [6.] [government] chose a private developer from a group of applicants rather than picking out a particular transferee beforehand and... [7.] other private beneficiaries of the project [were]... unknown [to government] because the... space proposed to be built [had] not yet been rented...

Kelo v. City of New London did not establish entirely new law concerning eminent domain. Although the decision was controversial, it was not the first time “public use” had been interpreted by the Supreme Court as “public purpose”. In the majority opinion, Justice Stevens wrote the "Court long ago rejected any literal requirement that condemned property be put into use for the general public" (545 U.S. 469). Thus precedent played an important role in the 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court. The Fifth Amendment was interpreted the same way as in Midkiff (467 U.S. 229) and other earlier eminent domain cases. However in those earlier cases the court justified the use of eminent domain on the basis of elimination of social harms such as barriers to efficient exploitation of agricultural and mineral-bearing land, elimination of slums, or large-scale title misallocation. None of these factors were present in Kelo; it was a case in which the city merely wanted to increase its tax revenues, and attract a wealthier population in place of the lower middle class home owners in the redevelopment project area.

Dissenting opinions

The principal dissent was issued on 25 June 2005 by Justice O'Connor, joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia and Thomas. The dissenting opinion suggested that the use of this taking power in a reverse Robin Hood fashion— take from the poor, give to the rich— would become the norm, not the exception:

O'Connor argued that the decision eliminates "any distinction between private and public use of property — and thereby effectively delete[s] the words 'for public use' from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment." 125 S.Ct. 2655, 2671.

Thomas also issued a separate originalist dissent, in which he argued that the precedents the court's decision relied upon were flawed. He accuses the majority of replacing the Fifth Amendment's "Public Use" clause with a very different "public purpose" test:

Thomas additionally observed:

Thomas also made use of the argument presented in the NAACP/AARP/SCLC/SJLS amicus brief on behalf of three low-income residents' groups fighting redevelopment in New Jersey, noting:

Subsequent developments

One of the few remaining houses in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, September 1, 2006. Underneath the white paint can just barely be read the words "Thank you Castle Coalition and Institute for Justice.
The same house, June 10, 2007. The "thank you" is still visible, but some windows are broken and others are boarded up, and "No Trespassing" has been spray-painted on it, as well as the URLs being obscured by spray paint.

Following the decision, many of the plaintiffs expressed an intent to find other means by which they could continue contesting the seizure of their homes.[9] Soon after the decision, city officials announced plans to charge the residents of the homes for back rent for the five years since condemnation procedures began. The city contended that the residents have been on city property for those five years and owe tens of thousands of dollars of rent. In June 2006, Governor M. Jodi Rell intervened with New London city officials, proposing the homeowners involved in the suit be deeded property in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood so they may retain their homes.[10] A group of New London residents formed a local political party, One New London, to combat the takings. While unsuccessful in gaining control of the New London City Council, they gained two seats and continue to try to gain a majority in the New London City Council to rectify the Ft. Trumbull takings.

The controversy was eventually settled when the city paid substantial additional compensation to the homeowners and agreed to move Kelo’s home to a new location.[11] The land was never deeded back to the original homeowners, most of whom have left New London for nearby communities.[2] Three years after the Supreme Court case was decided, the Kelo house was dedicated after being relocated to 36 Franklin Street, a site close to downtown New London.[12] Susette Kelo, however, has moved to a different part of Connecticut.

In spite of repeated efforts, the redeveloper (who stood to get a 91-acre (370,000 m2) waterfront tract of land for $1 per year) was unable to obtain financing, and the redevelopment project was abandoned. As of the beginning of 2010, the original Kelo property was a vacant lot, generating no tax revenue for the city.[2] In the aftermath of 2011's Hurricane Irene, the now-closed New London redevelopment area was turned into a dump for storm debris such as tree branches and other vegetation.[13] As of February 2014, it was still vacant.[14][15]

Pfizer, whose employees were supposed to be the clientele of the Fort Trumbull redevelopment project, completed its merger with Wyeth, resulting in a consolidation of research facilities of the two companies. Pfizer chose to retain the Groton campus on the east side of the Thames River, closing its New London facility in late 2010 with a loss of over 1000 jobs. That coincided with the expiration of tax breaks on the New London site that would have increased Pfizer's property tax bill by almost 400 percent.[16][17]

After the Pfizer announcement, the San Francisco Chronicle in its lead editorial called the Kelo decision infamous:

The well-laid plans of redevelopers, however, did not pan out. The land where Susette Kelo's little pink house once stood remains undeveloped. The proposed hotel-retail-condo "urban village" has not been built. And earlier this month, Pfizer Inc. announced that it is closing the $350 million research center in New London that was the anchor for the New London redevelopment plan, and will be relocating some 1,500 jobs.[18]
The Chronicle editorial quoted from The New York Times:
"They stole our home for economic development," ousted homeowner Michael Cristofaro told the New York Times. "It was all for Pfizer, and now they get up and walk away."[18]

The final cost to the city and state for the purchase and bulldozing of the formerly privately held property was $78 million.[19] The promised 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues had not materialized. As of 2014 the area remains an empty lot.[20]

Public reaction

Public reaction to the decision was highly unfavorable.[21] Much of the public viewed the outcome as a gross violation of property rights and as a misinterpretation of the Fifth Amendment, the consequence of which would be to benefit large corporations at the expense of individual homeowners and local communities. Some in the legal profession construed the public's outrage as being directed not at the interpretation of legal principles involved in the case, but at the broad moral principles of the general outcome.[22] Federal appeals court judge Richard Posner wrote that the political response to Kelo is "evidence of [the decision's] pragmatic soundness." Judicial action would be unnecessary, Posner suggested, because the political process could take care of the problem."[23][24]

Opposition to the ruling was widespread, coming from groups such as AARP, the NAACP, the Libertarian Party and the Institute for Justice. Many owners of family farms also disapproved of the ruling, as they saw it as an avenue by which cities could seize their land for private developments. The grassroots lobbying group American Conservative Union and The New Media Journal described the decision as judicial activism, as did numerous blogs.[25][26]

As a result, many states changed their eminent domain laws. Prior to the Kelo decision, only eight states specifically prohibited the use of eminent domain for economic development except to eliminate blight. Since the decision, forty-four states have amended their eminent domain laws, although some of these changes are cosmetic.[27] The New York Times editorial board agreed with the ruling, calling it "a welcome vindication of cities' ability to act in the public interest."[28] The Washington Post's editorial board also agreed with the ruling, writing, "... the court's decision was correct... New London's plan, whatever its flaws, is intended to help develop a city that has been in economic decline for many years."[29] The Kelo fiasco eventually cost the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, with nothing to show for it. The "carefully vetted" municipal plans that formed the basis for the Supreme Court's decision proved to be illusory. Eventually, the City of New London extended an apology to Susette Kelo and her neighbors, and so did one of the Connecticut Supreme Court Justices who voted for the city.[30]

Presidential reaction

On June 23, 2006, the first anniversary of the original decision, [31] instructing the federal government to restrict the use of eminent domain
...for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.[31]
However, since eminent domain is often exercised by local and state governments, the presidential order may thus have little overall effect.

Congressional reaction

On June 27, 2005, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced legislation, the "Protection of Homes, Small Businesses and Private Property Act of 2005" (S.B. 1313), to limit the use of eminent domain for economic development. The operative language

  1. prohibits the federal government from exercising eminent domain power if the only justifying "public use" is economic development; and
  2. imposes the same limit on state and local government exercise of eminent domain power "through the use of Federal funds."

Similar bills have subsequently been put forth in the House of Representatives by Congressman Dennis Rehberg (R-MT), Tom DeLay (R-TX) and John Conyers (D-MI) with James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). As some small-scale eminent domain condemnations (including notably those in the Kelo case) can be local in both decision and funding, it is unclear how much of an effect the bill would have if it passed into law.[32] This bill has been reintroduced several times.

Scholarly reaction

In 2008, land use Professor Daniel R. Mandelker argued that the public backlash against Kelo is rooted in the historical deficiencies of urban renewal legislation.[33] In particular, the article cited the failure to incorporate land use planning and a precise definition of blight in urban renewal legislation as problematic. In 2009, Professor Edward J. Lopez of San Jose State University studied passed laws and found that states with more economic freedom, greater value of new housing construction, and less racial and income inequality were more likely to have enacted stronger restrictions sooner.[34]

Severe criticism of the Kelo decision came from Professor Gideon Kanner of the Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.[35]

State legislation

Prior to Kelo, seven states specifically prohibited the use of eminent domain for economic development except to eliminate blight: Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Washington.[36] As of June 2012, 44 states had enacted some type of reform legislation in response to the Kelo decision. Of those states, 22 enacted laws that severely inhibited the takings allowed by the Kelo decision, while the rest enacted laws that place some limits on the power of municipalities to invoke eminent domain for economic development. The remaining eight states have not passed laws to limit the power of eminent domain for economic development.[34][37]


Proposition 207, the Private Property Rights Protection Act, passed in 2006.


Proposition 90 failed in the November 2006 election.[38] The initiative also included language requiring that government pay financial compensation to any property owners who could successfully argue that regulation caused them significant economic loss. Subsequently, Proposition 99 passed in the June 2008 election. It amends the state constitution to prohibit (subject to some exceptions):
state and local governments from using eminent domain to acquire an owner-occupied residence [if the owner has occupied the residence for at least one year], as defined, for conveyance to a private person or business entity.

However, under preexisting California law, such takings (for conveyance to a private party, as opposed to a public use that may incidentally benefit private parties) were already illegal. In 2012, California abolished its redevelopment agencies.[39]


Florida passed a 2006 ballot measure amending the Florida Constitution to restrict use of eminent domain.[40] The amendment says in part:

Private property taken by eminent domain [...] may not be conveyed to a natural person or private entity except as provided by general law passed by a three-fifths vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature.


The Iowa Legislature passed a 2006 bill restricting the use of eminent domain for economic development. Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) vetoed the bill,[41] prompting the first special session of the Iowa Legislature in more than 40 years. The veto was overridden by votes of 90-8 in the Iowa House and 41-8 in the Iowa Senate.[42]


In response to the Kelo decision, the Kansas Legislature enacted K.S.A. 26-501a and K.S.A. 26-501b and amended K.S.A. 26-501.

K.S.A. 26-501a. Eminent domain; limited to public use; transfer to private entity prohibited; exception. On and after July 1, 2007: (a) Private property shall not be taken by eminent domain except for public use and private property shall not be taken without just compensation. (b) The taking of private property by eminent domain for the purpose of selling, leasing or otherwise transferring such property to any private entity is prohibited except as provided in K.S.A. 2009 Supp. 26–501b, and amendments thereto. (c) This section shall be part of and supplemental to the eminent domain procedure act. History: L. 2006, ch. 192, § 1; May 25.

K.S.A. 26-501b. Eminent domain; transfer to private entity authorized, when. On and after July 1, 2007, the taking of private property by eminent domain for the purpose of selling, leasing, or otherwise transferring such property to any private entity is authorized if the taking is: (a) By the Kansas department of transportation or a municipality and the property is deemed excess real property that was taken lawfully and incidental to the acquisition of right-of-way for a public road, bridge or public improvement project including, but not limited to a public building, park, recreation facility, water supply project, wastewater and waste disposal project, storm water project and flood control and drainage project; (b) by any public utility, as defined in K.S.A. 66-104, and amendments thereto, gas gathering service, as defined in K.S.A. 55-1,101, and amendments thereto, pipe-line companies, railroads and all persons and associations of persons, whether incorporated or not, operating such agencies for public use in the conveyance of persons or property within this state, but only to the extent such property is used for the operation of facilities necessary for the provision of services; (c) by any municipality when the private property owner has acquiesced in writing to the taking; (d) by any municipality for the purpose of acquiring property which has defective or unusual conditions of title including, but not limited to, clouded or defective title or unknown ownership interests in the property; (e) by any municipality for the purpose of acquiring property which is unsafe for occupation by humans under the building codes of the jurisdiction where the structure is situated; (f) expressly authorized by the legislature on or after July 1, 2007, by enactment of law that identifies the specific tract or tracts to be taken. If the legislature authorizes eminent domain for private economic development purposes, the legislature shall consider requiring compensation of at least 200% of fair market value to property owners. (g) This section shall be part of and supplemental to the eminent domain procedure act. History: L. 2006, ch. 192, § 2; May 25.


An attempted use of eminent domain was brought before the Ohio Supreme Court in Norwood, Ohio v. Horney. The Supreme Court of Ohio held in favor of the property owners.


Michigan passed a restriction on the use of eminent domain in November 2006, Proposition 4, 80% to 20%.[43] The text of the ballot initiative was as follows:[44]

A proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit government from taking private property by eminent domain for certain private purposes
The proposed constitutional amendment would:
  • Prohibit government from taking private property for transfer to another private individual or business for purposes of economic development or increasing tax revenue.
  • Provide that if an individual's principal residence is taken by government for public use, the individual must be paid at least 125% of property’s fair market value.
  • Require government that takes a private property to demonstrate that the taking is for a public use; if taken to eliminate blight, require a higher standard of proof to demonstrate that the taking of that property is for a public use.
  • Preserve existing rights of property owners.


The state restricts eminent domain to public use. Minnesota Statute 117.025 Subd. 11(b) (passed in 2006) clearly states: "The public benefits of economic development, including an increase in tax base, tax revenues, employment, or general economic health, do not by themselves constitute a public use or public purpose."[45]


On 8 November 2011, Mississippi Initiative #31 restricting eminent domain, was approved by voters 73%-27%.[46] The text of Initiative # 31 is as follows:[47]

No property acquired by the exercise of the power of eminent domain under the laws of the State of Mississippi shall, for a period of ten years after its acquisition, be transferred or any interest therein transferred to any person, non-governmental entity, public-private partnership, corporation, or other business entity with the following exceptions: (1) The above provisions shall not apply to drainage and levee facilities and usage, roads and bridges for public conveyance, flood control projects with a levee component, seawalls, dams, toll roads, public airports, public ports, public harbors, public wayports, common carriers or facilities for public utilities and other entities used in the generation, transmission, storage or distribution of telephone, telecommunication, gas, carbon dioxide, electricity, water, sewer, natural gas, liquid hydrocarbons or other utility products. (2) The above provisions shall not apply where the use of eminent domain (a) removes a public nuisance; (b) removes a structure that is beyond repair or unfit for human habitation or use; (c) is used to acquire abandoned property; or (d) eliminates a direct threat to public health or safety caused by the property in its current condition.


On 25 November 2008 a voter-approved amendment to the Nevada constitution, colloquially titled the People’s Initiative To Stop The Taking Of Our Land, or PISTOL, was put into effect following its review by the Nevada State Supreme Court.[48] Among other provisions, the amendment included the following text:

Public use shall not include the direct or indirect transfer of any interest in property taken in an eminent domain proceeding from one private party to another private party. In all eminent domain actions, the government shall have the burden to prove public use.

The amendment also modifies the definition of "fair market value"—used to determine the monetary compensation a property owner receives—to represent the highest value the property would be sold for on the open market, and returns seized property to the original property owner "if the property is not used within five years for the original purpose stated by the government."[49]

New Hampshire

Subsequent to this decision, there was widespread outrage across the country. California developer and libertarian Logan Darrow Clements scooped a similar proposal by New Hampshire libertarians to seize Justice Souter's 'blighted' home in Weare, New Hampshire, via eminent domain in order to build a "Lost Liberty Hotel" which he said would feature a "Just Desserts Cafe". Officials of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire (LPNH) and the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers had been eyeing the Justice's property to build a Constitution Park. A few weeks later, LPNH Vice-Chair Mike Lorrey discovered that Justice Breyer owned an extensive vacation estate in Plainfield, NH, and announced on the New Hampshire Public Radio show The Exchange focusing on eminent domain that LPNH would be pursuing their Constitution Park concept with Breyer's property in mind. Lorrey and Clements both advocated an amendment to New Hampshire's Constitution limiting eminent domain, which passed New Hampshire's legislature on 24 March 2006. The text of the amendment is as follows: "No part of a person's property shall be taken by eminent domain and transferred, directly or indirectly, to another person if the taking is for the purpose of private development or other private use of the property."[50] It passed by an overwhelming margin in the 2006 general election.[51]


On 29 March 2006 Gov. Jim Doyle signed into law 2005 Wisconsin Act 233, which prohibits condemnation of nonblighted property for transfer to a private entity. Nonblighted property is defined by a list of conditions that may make the property a detriment to the "public health, safety, or welfare." Two days earlier the governor signed into law 2005 Wisconsin Act 208, which creates procedures designed to protect property owners including public notice and public hearing requirements.[52]

The Wisconsin law has been criticized as one having little or no real protection for property owners because it provides protection against property condemnation for economic development but does allow property condemnation under a broadly defined description of blighted.[53][54]

See also


  1. ^ Full text of the decision on Cornell University's Law School Legal Information Institute website
  2. ^ a b c Nelson, Katie (September 25, 2009). "Conn. land taken from homeowners still undeveloped". Seattle Times. Associated Press. Retrieved April 2, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Susette Kelo et al. v. City of New London et al. (SC 16742)". Connecticut Judicial Branch. March 9, 2004. Retrieved July 22, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Kelo v. New London— Concurrence and Dissent". Connecticut Judicial Branch. March 9, 2004. Retrieved July 22, 2014. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "Amicus Briefs". The Institute for Justice. Retrieved 2014-07-22. 
  7. ^ Kelo v. City of New London - Oral Argument | The Oyez Project
  8. ^ 04-108, Kelo et al. v. City of New London et al., (06/23/05)
  9. ^ Apuzo, Matt (June 23, 2005). "High court ruling divides New London". 
  10. ^ "404 error". Retrieved 2006-11-02. 
  11. ^ Susette Kelo Lost Her Rights, She Lost Her Property, But She Has Saved Her Home
  12. ^ "House in CT eminent domain dispute finds new home". Associated Press. June 21, 2008. 
  13. ^ "Kelo v. New London": An Ignominous [sic] End for One of the Supreme Court’s Worst Decisions, 2011-09-02 
  14. ^ Poetic Justice for Suzette Kelo | Rebel Yid - Ideas beyond the left/right, red/blue, and liberal/conservative thinking
  15. ^ Alec Torres (2014), Nine Years after Kelo, the Seized Land Is Empty, retrieved 2014-02-06 
  16. ^ , November 9, 2009CourantPfizer to close New London Headquarters, Hartford
  17. ^ Edwards, Jim (2009-11-10). BNET Retrieved 2010-02-26. 
  18. ^ a b "After the homes are gone". San Francisco Chronicle. November 28, 2009. p. A-11. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Pfizer and Kelo v. City of New London". The Wall Street Journal. November 11, 2009. Retrieved 2010-12-05. 
  20. ^ Allen, Charlotte (Feb 10, 2014). "‘Kelo’ Revisited". Weekly Standard. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  21. ^ THE NATION; Case Won On Appeal (To Public), retrieved on 2009-11-13.
  22. ^ Nicole Stelle Garnett, "The Neglected Political Economy of Eminent Domain", 105 Mich. L. Rev. 101, 136 ; Marcilynn A. Burke, "Much Ado About Nothing: Kelo v. City Of New London, Babbit v. Sweet Home, And Other Tales From the Supreme Court", 75 U. Cin. L. Rev. 663, 683.
  23. ^ Somin, Ilya (August–September 2007). "The Limits of Anti-Kelo Legislation". Retrieved July 22, 2014. This opinion was supposed by Chief Justice John Roberts during his confirmation hearing 
  24. ^ Richard Posner, 2005-06 Harvard Law Review (119 Harv. L. Rev. 32, 98).
  25. ^ [2]
  26. ^
  27. ^ Legislative Center | The Castle Coalition
  28. ^ The Limits of Property Rights, The New York Times, June 24, 2005
  29. ^ However the New York Times has a conflict of interest because its current headquarters building was erected on land taken by eminent domain for economic redevelopment.Eminent Latitude, The Washington Post, June 24, 2005
  30. ^ The Day - Mayor announces restructuring of NLDC; apologizes to eminent domain property owners | News from southeastern Connecticut
  31. ^ a b Bush, George W. (June 23, 2006). "Executive Order: Protecting the Property Rights of the American People". The White House. Retrieved July 22, 2014. 
  32. ^ Professor Eugene Volokh, "Senator Cornyn (R-TX) Proposes Limits on Eminent Domain." The Volokh Conspiracy, June 27, 2005
  33. ^ Kelo’s Lessons for Urban Redevelopment: History Forgotten, Daniel E. Mandelker, Washington University Law Review Slip Opinions (Nov. 24, 2008).
  34. ^ a b Edward J. Lopez; Jewell, R. Todd; Campbell, Noel D. (April 1, 2009). "Pass a Law, Any Law, Fast! State Legislative Responses to the Kelo Backlash". Review of Law & Economics (Berkeley Electronic Press) 5 (1).  
  35. ^ "The Public Use Clause: Constitutional Mandate or "Hortatory Fluff"?". Pepperdine Law Review 33 (2): 335–384. 2006. 
  36. ^ NCSL: State Case Law Prohibiting Eminent Domain for Economic Development, August 2005.
  37. ^ "50 State Report Card: Tracking Eminent Domain Reform Legislation since Kelo". Castle Coalition. August 2007. Retrieved July 22, 2014. 
  38. ^
  39. ^ Dolan, Maura; Garrison, Jessica; York, Anthony (December 29, 2011). "California high court puts redevelopment agencies out of business". Los Angeles Times. 
  40. ^ Tampabay: Crimping eminent domain
  41. ^ [3]
  42. ^ Search
  43. ^ Election Results 2006
  44. ^ Analysis of Proposals on the Ballot November 7, 2006
  45. ^ 117.025, 2012 Minnesota Statutes
  46. ^ [4]
  47. ^ [5]
  48. ^ Ed Vogel (November 25, 2008). "Eminent domain limits become part of state constitution". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  49. ^ "Initiative Petition, Nevada Property Owners' Bill of Rights". Nevada Secretary of State. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  50. ^ The following questions will appear on the New Hampshire General Election Ballot
  51. ^ Summary-Cheshire Con Con 2006
  52. ^ New Eminent Domain Restrictions and Zoning Notice Laws
  53. ^ A Questionable Taking in Milwaukee.
  54. ^ City set to take family's land.

Further reading

  • Benedict, Jeff (2009). Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage. New York: Grand Central Pub.  
  • Fruehwald, Edwin (2010). "A Biological Basis of Rights". Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal 19: 195. 
  • Galperin, Joshua U. (2007). "A Warning To States, Accepting this Invitation May be Hazardous to Your Health (Safety and Public Welfare): An Analysis of Post-Kelo Legislative Activity". Vermont Law Review 31: 663.  
  • Kanner, Gideon (2006). "Kelo v. New London: Bad Law, Bad Policy and Bad Judgment". The Urban Lawyer 38: 201.  
  • Ryskamp, John (2006). The Eminent Domain Revolt: Changing Perceptions in a New Constitutional Epoch. New York: Algora Publishing.  
  • Sandefur, Timothy (2006). "The Backlash So Far: Will Americans Get Meaningful Eminent Domain Reform?". Michigan State Law Review 2006: 709.  

External links

  • Full text of the decision courtesy of
  • Text of the lower court decision
  • The Supreme Court Docket for the case and list of amicus briefs
  • Transcript of the oral argument in this case
  • Kelo v. New London at the Institute for Justice
  • Property Rights and Eminent Domain: The Mighty Myths of the Kelo Case
  • Congress works to blunt court decision
  • Lessons From the Kelo Decision, essay by Congressman Ron Paul on
  • Article in the New York Times: States Curbing Right to Seize Private Homes
  • Barry Yeoman, AARP: The MagazineWhose House Is It Anyway?,
  • Limit Eminent Domain organization gathering signatures for the California Eminent Domain Limitations Act
  • NCSL: Eminent Domain
  • 13 Nov 2009 broadcast of Democracy Now!: segment on New London starts ~12 min into the broadcast.
  • Apology Adds An Epilogue To Kelo Case - Hartford Courant
  • The Kelo House (1890) at Historic Buildings of Connecticut
    • Original location:
    • Current location:
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