Richard Epstein explains just how bad the Kelo ruling really was
If you get the Wall Street Journal, check out this Richard Epstein article (available by subscription only, at least today), which goes into detail about, in Epstein's words, "why Kelo is truly horrible." It's worth quoting from the article's factual discussion, so you can discover on what a lamentably thin foundation Justice Stevens built his "public benefit" argument, one that goes far beyond the "public use" phrase found in the Constitution:
To understand why Kelo is truly horrible, it is necessary to look both at Kelo and the constitutional logic of public use requirement. On the former, the declining economic fortunes of New London spurred the city elders to embark on a general urban development plan, underwritten by $73 million in state money devoted to general planning, physical infrastructure and environmental cleanup. The plan lacked only one ingredient -- some real live developer prepared to risk his own capital to build any office or hotel on part of the 90 or so acres the City already had. Not content with its overheated vision, New London's plan envisioned taking down about 15 old homes overlooking Long Island Sound, to be used for some unidentified form of "park support." Fancy new private homes were not listed on the plan. None of the endless frustration and delays in implementing its grand plan were attributable to the decision of some landowners to fight New London. Quite simply, the slow rate of development made obsolete some of the original projects, such as a luxury hotel to support a new nearby Pfizer facility. Pfizer could not wait 10 years to house its visiting dignitaries. One obvious compromise position, therefore, should have appealed even to the five member majority on the Supreme Court: to force the City to postpone the condemnation of these private homes until the City revealed its hand.The Kelo decision, when one really understands this facts, is just a sickening example of government overreach, and of a blind faith in procedure to the exclusion of all justice.