Nicholas Confessore of The New York Times has a great report on yesterday's oral arguments in the New York eminent domain case Goldstein v. New York State Urban Development Corporation. As Confessore notes, the lawyer representing New York's Empire State Development Corporation faced some fierce questioning over the agency's desire to seize private property on behalf of the wealthy private developer Bruce Ratner:
Wednesday's one-hour hearing featured sharp questioning from several judges over what limits the state faced when it sought to condemn private property, some of it suggesting that the judges believed that the rights of the owners had not received enough consideration from state officials.
The lawyer for the Empire State Development Corporation, Philip E. Karmel, also faced sharp questioning from the court's chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, that went to the heart of a key legal and political dispute surrounding Atlantic Yards: Whether it is a private real estate project seeking the patina of a public purpose to justify eminent domain, or a state-sponsored economic development project that happens to include a major real estate venture….
In another line of questioning, Judge Robert S. Smith, in a tone that suggested skepticism, asked Mr. Karmel if there were any limits on the state's ability to take private land, so long as there was a public benefit. Mr. Karmel said that under current law and precedent, there was not.
Judge Smith also questioned Mr. Karmel about the state's definition of blight.
"Suppose I am a developer and I want to buy on an area that is half blighted and half not," the judge asked. "They can condemn the whole thing, even if only half of it is blighted?"
The answer, Mr. Karmel said, was yes.
On a related note, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn observes that the Times apparently didn't see this particular story as "fit to print":
What is not reasonable, and is the fault of the editors, not Confessore, is that the story did not make it into the print edition of the paper. Something is rotten at the Times.
Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that The New York Times currently operates out of a Times Square skyscraper built in partnership with Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner that sits atop land seized via eminent domain?