Skip to comments.Supreme Court rules cities may seize homes
Posted on 06/23/2005 8:07:27 AM PDT by Stew Padasso
Supreme Court rules cities may seize homes
WASHINGTON - A divided Supreme Court ruled that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in communities where economic growth conflicts with individual property rights.
Thursday's 5-4 ruling represented a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.
As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.
Local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community, justices said.
"The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including - but by no means limited to - new jobs and increased tax revenue," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority.
He was joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.
At issue was the scope of the Fifth Amendment, which allows governments to take private property through eminent domain if the land is for "public use."
Susette Kelo and several other homeowners in a working-class neighborhood in New London, Conn., filed suit after city officials announced plans to raze their homes for a riverfront hotel, health club and offices.
New London officials countered that the private development plans served a public purpose of boosting economic growth that outweighed the homeowners' property rights, even if the area wasn't blighted.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has been a key swing vote on many cases before the court, issued a stinging dissent. She argued that cities should not have unlimited authority to uproot families, even if they are provided compensation, simply to accommodate wealthy developers.
The lower courts had been divided on the issue, with many allowing a taking only if it eliminates blight.
"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," O'Connor wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."
She was joined in her opinion by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, as well as Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
Nationwide, more than 10,000 properties were threatened or condemned in recent years, according to the Institute for Justice, a Washington public interest law firm representing the New London homeowners.
New London, a town of less than 26,000, once was a center of the whaling industry and later became a manufacturing hub. More recently the city has suffered the kind of economic woes afflicting urban areas across the country, with losses of residents and jobs.
The New London neighborhood that will be swept away includes Victorian-era houses and small businesses that in some instances have been owned by several generations of families. Among the New London residents in the case is a couple in their 80s who have lived in the same home for more than 50 years.
City officials envision a commercial development that would attract tourists to the Thames riverfront, complementing an adjoining Pfizer Corp. research center and a proposed Coast Guard museum.
New London was backed in its appeal by the National League of Cities, which argued that a city's eminent domain power was critical to spurring urban renewal with development projects such Baltimore's Inner Harbor and Kansas City's Kansas Speedway.
Under the ruling, residents still will be entitled to "just compensation" for their homes as provided under the Fifth Amendment. However, Kelo and the other homeowners had refused to move at any price, calling it an unjustified taking of their property.
The case is Kelo et al v. City of New London, 04-108.
I WANT THE NUCLEAR OPTION.
I don't care what the democrats promise they will not do.
One of the problems is that there is no consistanncy. I know of one area that the local courts have ruled that in order for a governement to sieze private property the ownwer needs to be reimbursed to the tune of 3 times FMV. Obviously there's not a hell of a lot of eminant domaine there. There just has to be some consistancy and regard for personal property rights.
I am devastated. I am resorting to the girlie art of crying right now.
My country is dead.
The heading should read: SUPREME COURT CANCELS 5TH AMENDMENT
1 million people have just been evicted from Chicago.
I'm with you.
Where do we muster?
Do we need a permit?
Who decides the value of the home to be destroyed........oh let me guess.......the ones who will gain the most. I wonder how much they are paying the supreme court for this ruling?
Time for these fuchs to be elected like everybody else.
What has happened to private property rights? Individual rights are being steadily eroded in this country. If you have no property rights, what's left? You can't express your religious beliefs in public. You have to submit to strip searches to board an airplane. Your opportunities for employment are contingent upon whether or not you qualify as a member of a "protected class." Every day, more and more of this cr-p courtesy of some court.
Bush is trying to bring democracy to the Middle East. Maybe he should be spending more time trying to restore it here.
Nice to know that the Constitution is official toilet paper. Federal "rights" trump all State rights and private property is a convinience not a God given right. How frigging nice. China has this level of private property protection. We are heading down hill to meet the chinese.
Stop posting threats now!
Do you think the socialists realize that THEIR constitutents are most likely to be harmed by this?
How true, that is just around the corner.
Yep, I'd be surprised if the MSM sided against this USSC decision. Just take a look at the judges who dissented: O'Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas.
Not to mention that the ruling benefits the MSM's big corporations.
It would take a lot more then this to drive the American soccor mom sheeple to revolution: like another scandal in Gitmo (the stuff that really "matters").
I promise not only to never go to New London, I will never visit the state of Connecticut. To hell with the money grubbers!
Lets organize the "free republic economic group." What we need to do is home in on wealthy liberals' homes and build offices. We can generate tax revenue for cities by selling property rights apparral.
Question: Is suggesting a revolution a threat?
He's talking about Walmart strip malls.
Start taking their homes and see what happens.
This was a dangerous decision because wars have started for less than this.
The revolution was fought over a low 10% tax and the housing of British soldiers. Hardly a comparison to our present "enlightened" tax system and the land grabbing bastards that rule us serfs.
Vote the bastRATs out to oblivion! This is not a threat, this is wakeup call!
Wars have started for this reason exactly.
It is official citizens no long own property, you can only rent it, with the possibility of eviction at anytime.
What back page will the Post and Times hide this decision by their liberal dictators? Hitler would be proud.
This is a very sad day in American history.
Uh, well, we tried that about 145 years ago and the damn yankees burned us out and stole our land.
They ought to call this the "Sherman Law".
I propose to take Kennedy and sKerry properties and build shopping malls for people. Watch for "rule of law". They would not allow freakin windmill in the sight!! Welcome to US-SR!
I agree, a riot would be an appropriate reaction.
And a hundred years ago there would be open rebellion and another civil war. Today? Hardly. Our neutered society will protest and bitch and a few will stand and fight and the statist media will portray them as nothing but fanatics and hound them until they are seen as public enemy number one: followed by calls for more gun bans.
I simply was responding to someone who said that the government can now simply steal your property. They cannot. The use of eminent domain has been corrupted and I think that this is a moronic ruling but the fact remains that even though the government has been given a big + is seizing your property, they still cannot simply steal it.
So, when do we leave?
This would be a great Freeper rallying point. These residents might need help when the bulldozers arrive!
Are insults OK?
Ruth Bader Vader Ginsberg: doesn't she look like that homely chicken with the egg-head son Foghorn Leghorn was always mooching off?
And Souter, GHWB's appointment: what a *dis*appointment!
Kennedy, again citing Martian condemnation law.
These birds can make-up constitutional rights out of whole cloth, but apparently can't read the following:
So much for the notion of "private property".
And on top of that, you now know what your citizenship is worth: $7,000 fine for illegals filing after crossing illegally. Yup, isn't life grand?
The Union fought the War of Northern Aggression so that they could take away States Rights and Property Rights, Why is anyone surprised?
Do these people own (or now rent) real estate?
They will take my land when they pry it from my cold dead fingers.........or is that guns.....uh, either way.
I will fight to the death.
Are you with me?
I am with you to the death. Plus, any reason to buy more guns.
Any attempt of a revolution would be met quickly under the guise of the "Patriot Act." How quick do you think revolutionaries would be classified as "terrorists?"
I am not advocating violence, but if someone invades your home, like a thief, you can shoot them. No?
Folks, make sure you know who your city council, mayor's, township supervisors, township boards, and planning commission's buddies are. Your home may depend on it.
Does anyone know what the property rights are in Canada?
Moving across the boarder may be better then it seemed before if they have better property rights.
I was going to get a home equity loan, but not sure now, hell it not my property.
Not if it's the Government or someone appointed by the government.