Sunday, December 18, 2016

Eminent domain: public good or crony capitalism?

Kelo v New London is arguably the worst Supreme Court decision of my life time still in effect. Citizens United is terrible too but it mostly legimitized a system that was increasingly corrupt anyways.


The US Constitution permits the taking of “private property for public USE" with just compensation.This process was typically used to obtain land to build highways, bridges, parks and other things the public has access to. There have often been battles over what constitutes just compensation but the principle of what constituted “public use” was pretty clear.


The Kelo ruling threw this out and authorized eminent domain  to be used for the far more nebulous reason of the public benefit. This is often invoked to justify giving the land – or selling it at a pittance - to a private developer to build a private structure because of the “public benefit” of greater tax revenue.


In other words, it opened the door for the government to seize property and use it to further crony capitalism.


In this story, the city of Hartford, CT, seized land from a developer who wanted to build a mixed-use structure adjacent to where a new baseball stadium was being built. The city seized the property from one developer and gave it to another developer.