My Wall Street Journal op-ed on the 10th anniversary of Kelo v. City of New London

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

The Wall Street Journal has published my op-ed on the tenth anniversary of Kelo v. City of New London, the controversial Supreme Court decision that generated a massive public reaction and reinvigorated the debate over constitutional property rights.

Here is an excerpt:

June 23 marks the 10th anniversary of Kelo v. City of New London, when the Supreme Court held in a 5-4 ruling that government could use eminent domain to take private property for "economic development…." At issue in the case were 15 homes, including a little pink house owned by Susette Kelo, in the city of New London, Conn….

But after the court ruled…., those plans fell through.

The condemned land remains empty, housing only a few feral cats.

The Fifth Amendment allows governments to take private property only for "public use…"

The Kelo majority concluded that virtually any potential public benefit qualifies as a "public use"-even if the government cannot prove that the benefit will ever materialize…

Although Kelo was a painful defeat for advocates of property rights, it led to important progress. The ruling generated an enormous backlash…

Kelo and its aftermath are far from the end of the struggle to restore constitutional protection for property rights. But when future generations visit the park where the little pink house once stood, they may well remember this case as the end of the beginning.

The op-ed is based on my recently published book, The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London and the Limits of Eminent Domain.