Revisiting Kelo

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Kelo v. City of New London sparked considerable public outrage. The prospect that any homeowner could lose his or her house and property to a corporation whose operation a city thought could better serve its needs generated uncertainty and fear. But that day has passed. The tenth anniversary of Kelo is marked more by public sufferance of the Supreme Court’s ruling than by continued public outrage. The Supreme Court has not returned to the subject, and its decision therefore stands as the Court’s last word on the meaning of the Public Use Clause. The problem for the public and property rights advocates is that Kelo has been forgotten. If Kelo should return to prominence because some state or city prefers B to A as a property owner, the Constitution will likely offer property owners no protection against whatever public benefits a majority of a state or local government can imagine.

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