Tag Archives: Kelo v. New London

Life, Liberty, and Property

Hands off our homes
A Supreme Court ruling that allows the government to seize private property has set off a fierce backlash that may yet be as potent as the anti-abortion movement

"Seven days later [after the Kelo v. New London SCOTUS decision], by a ten-to-one margin, the Republican House of Representatives passed a motion disagreeing with the court. A constitutional amendment to overrule Kelo is before the House, while a bill that would have a similar effect is before the Senate. Delaware, Alabama and Texas have already passed laws restricting the government's power to grab private property. Legislators from two dozen other states have either proposed similar bills, or promised to do so.quot;


"Since Kelo, the law may have shifted in favour of the men with the bulldozers, but public opinion has swung sharply the other way. Polls suggest that 90% of Americans disapprove of the kind of seizures allowed by Kelo. Such is the anger that some developers say they are shunning even the kind of eminent-domain seizures that would have been legal before Kelo."

This decision has local implications, too.

"Property-owners fighting against local government have been buoyed by the backlash. In the town of Ardmore, Pennsylvania, for example, a small group of businessfolk received letters last year informing them that their shops were to be demolished to make way for a new development including apartments and a parking garage."


"The local government had declared the area 'blighted'. But a brief walkabout reveals that it is no more blighted than the potato you ate for lunch. A couple of shop fronts are a bit tatty, but otherwise it looks fine. Indeed, the district has been officially designated 'historic', since much of it was built in the 19th century. The condemned properties include a second-hand shop that supports the local hospital, a club for veterans of foreign wars and Scott Mahan's stationery shop, which has been in his family since 1926."

BTW, Ardmore is in Lower Merion Township, which was founded by Quakers, some of whom are my ancestors. It's a tenuous tie, perhaps, but preserving PA and family history is important to me. So is sticking up for underdogs.

A lot of the groups making a fuss about Kelo, like Grassfire, are conservative in nature, and the article points out similarities to the Roe v. Wade ruling. I don't think this should be dismissed as a right wingnut issue, however. The Left ought to be more interested that it seems to be. I can't recall a single alert or petition coming from the ACLU, MoveOn, or any of the other myriad liberal organizations I get mail from (and I get a lot). Why is that?

Average Americans of all political leanings seem to be outraged by this decision, but the leadership seems to be asleep at the switch. This decision will benefit large corporations and hurt small businesses and individual landowners. Joe Voter stands to lose the most from this ruling. The problem is, he didn't vote for the folks who made the decision. They were appointed by presidents and confirmed by his senators. The legislative branch is supposed to serve as a check on the powers of the executive and judicial branches. It's time to hold our representatives accountable and impress upon them the importance of supporting an amendment to reverse Kelo. To do that, we're going to need help from grassroots organizations from all parts of the spectrum.

Wake up, Left! Your country needs you!