My article on Post-Kelo eminent domain reform from the August print issue of Reason magazine is now available online. Here’s a brief excerpt:
In Kelo v. City of New London (2005), the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the government to condemn property and transfer it to other private owners in the name of “economic development.” Upholding the forced transfer of land in New London, Connecticut, to private developers, the Court ruled that virtually any potential public benefit satisfies the Fifth Amendment’s requirement that the authorities can take property only for a “public use.” …
The ruling generated more and broader opposition than any other Supreme Court decision of the last several decades. A 2005 survey . . . showed that 81 percent of Americans opposed Kelo, a backlash that cut across traditional partisan, ideological, and racial lines. Eighty-five percent of Republicans opposed Kelo, but so did 79 percent of Democrats and 83 percent of independents. The decision was likewise opposed by 82 percent of whites, 72 percent of blacks, and 80 percent of Hispanics….
Many observers expected the backlash to prompt legislation that would make judicial protection against economic development takings unnecessary…..
Although important progress in protecting property rights has been made in some states, such predictions turned out to be seriously overstated. The Kelo backlash has not been as effective as many expected. Too often, cosmetic changes have taken the place of real reform.
The Reason article draws on my far more detailed academic paper on post-Kelo reform.