In 1998 the pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced plans to build a giant new research and development center in New London, Connecticut. As part of the deal, city officials agreed to clear out neighboring property owners via eminent domain, giving a private developer space to build a fancy new hotel, apartment buildings, and office towers to complement the corporate facility. Five years ago today, in Kelo v. City of New London, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld this seizure of private property because it was part of a “comprehensive redevelopment plan” that would provide “appreciable benefits to the community.”
Half a decade has now passed and we know exactly how well Kelo worked out. The project that was used to entice Pfizer was never built, and last year the company announced that it was closing down its facility and pulling out of New London entirely. The only upshot of this atrocious decision is the nationwide backlash it sparked against eminent domain abuse, including several successful legal challenges and the passage of eminent domain reform in 43 states.
To mark the occasion of Kelo’s fifth anniversary, here's a sampling of Reason's voluminous coverage of the decision and its aftermath:
Never Mind the Kelo, Here’s Scott Bullock. The attorney who argued the landmark eminent domain case surveys the blight. Interview by Tim Cavanaugh.
Why the New York Times ♥s Eminent Domain. Elite newspapers and liberal activists embrace the Kelo decision at their long-term peril. By Matt Welch.
The Limits of Anti-Kelo Legislation. Reformers are trying to outlaw eminent domain abuse. But will the laws they’re passing be effective? By Ilya Somin.
Post-Kelo America: An Optimist's View. Reforms are making progress. By Bert Gall.
Litigating for Liberty. The Institute for Justice’s Chip Mellor on campaign finance reform, eminent domain abuse, and licensing laws gone wild. Interview by Nick Gillespie.
Not for Sale. The little pink house that sparked an eminent domain revolution. By Scott Bullock.
The Pro-Corporate Legacy of Justice John Paul Stevens. By Damon Root.
Big Blighters. How developers use “blight” as a pretext to get the land they covet. By Jacob Sullum.
And in the video below, legal experts from the Institute for Justice look at Kelo five years later: