The case “Kelo v. City of New London” is a land-use case which was decided by the United States Supreme Court in June, 2005. The case arose from a city’s use of eminent domain to condemn privately owned real property so that it could be used for economic development.
In 1998, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer began construction of a major research facility on the outskirts of New London. Seeing an “opportunity,” the city of New London reactivated the New London Development Corporation, a private entity under the control of the city government, to consider plans to redevelop the area and encourage new economic activities that might be brought in by the Pfizer plant. The development plan included a resort hotel and conference center, a new state park, new residences, and various research, office, and retail space. The plan authorized the corporation to acquire 115 residential lots by exercising its right of eminent domain. However, owners of 15 of these properties did not wish to leave their properties. These owners sued then city, arguing that the city had misused its eminent domain power.
Discuss the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Just Compensation Clause under the Fifth Amendment. Do you agree or disagree with the Court’s ruling? Why? Do you understand the basis for their decision? Did the majority decide as “judicial activists” or “strict constructionists” in their analysis? What are some of the arguments against this decision? What are your views on this case—and what has transpired in its aftermath?
Case syllabus, provided by Cornell University Law School
Kelo v. City of New London
Decided June 23, 2005