George Mason University law professor (and Reason contributor) Ilya Somin catches Sonia Sotomayor misstating a central fact about the Supreme Court's eminent domain decision in Kelo v. City of New London during her confirmation hearings today:
In response to questioning by Democratic Senator Herb Kohl, Sotomayor refused to reveal her view of Kelo, a standard tactic used by previous Supreme Court nominees, but also incorrectly claimed that Kelo upheld a taking in an "economically blighted area"…
In reality, both sides in the Kelo litigation agreed that the area in question was not blighted. As Justice John Paul Stevens noted in his majority opinion for the Court, "There is no allegation that any of these properties [that were condemned] is blighted or otherwise in poor condition," and "[t]hose who govern the City [of New London] were not confronted with the need to remove blight in the Fort Trumbull area" where the condemned properties were located. That's what made the Kelo case distinctive: it addressed the question of whether property could be condemned and transferred from one private owner to another solely for purposes of "economic development" in a nonblighted area.
Whoops. As Somin notes, "Sotomayor's misstatement of Kelo's holding is somewhat surprising, given that she was surely prepared to answer questions about her own controversial ruling applying Kelo in the Didden case."