Yesterday a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the condemnation of a dozen or so homes and businesses in Brooklyn to make way for a $4 billion, 22-acre project that is expected to include a basketball arena, office space, and apartments. The property owners argue that the plan originated with the developer, Forest City Ratner Companies, rather than the government, which has not followed the sort of careful, orderly process that the Supreme Court seemed to indicate was important in Kelo v. New London. Instead, says the lawsuit, city and state officials are just going along with what the developer wants, citing alleged public benefits as an afterthought. But U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled that "plaintiffs have not set forth facts supporting a plausible claim of an unconstitutional taking," since "nowhere in the amended complaint or their briefs do plaintiffs sufficiently allege any purpose to confer a private benefit." This reading of Kelo suggests that, in the absence of videotape showing a developer handing a briefcase full of cash to a politician or an explicit declaration that the government is using eminent domain to benefit a private party, the courts will uphold any condemnation that's part of a project expected to create jobs, generate new tax revenue, or provide some other "public benefit."
On a recent episode of the FX series The Riches, the sleazy developer who employs one of the main characters was able to fend off an eminent domain challenge by adding a skating rink to his project. Unfortunately, this is close enough to the current state of the law that I don't think it counts as satire.