The Case of Kelo v. City of New London

Running head; Kelo v. City of New London (2005) 1

Kelo v. City of New London(2005) 2

Kelo v. City of New London (2005)

The case (2005) involves New London authorities seizing private land which was to be sold later to private developers. In 2000, New London approved a development plan which is claimed was to revitalize the economy of the country by creating jobs and increasing tax revenues. Although some of the landowners willingly sold their land to New London state, those who rested were met with condemnation proceedings from the state. Susette Kelo was one of the victims who wanted to hold onto her little pink house near the waterfront, and as a result, he sued the London state in court. This case was significant as it showed how the state had violated the Fifth Amendment’s clause which indicated that the government will not take private property for public use without a fair way of compensation. (Oyez., 2016)
The property owners who were unwilling to sell their land to New London argued that taking private property only to sell it to private development was not to be termed as “public use”. The Supreme Court of Connecticut ruled for New London, and four of the judges agreed that private development qualified as “public use”. New London argued that the city was not planning to open a condemned land to use the general public, but rather the private development was interpreted public purpose. They also claimed that the land was not intended to benefit a particular class of individuals but rather meet the public needs of creating over jobs and increasing tax revenues. (, 2016). They also argued that the city was implementing a development plan to elevate the economy of the community by invoking the eminent domain purpose of promoting development statute. Such justifications from the states led to the majority of the justices agreeing that “public use” doesn’t necessarily mean in a literal way but it can be an interpretation of “public use” as “public purpose”. (Oyez. 2016)
The Supreme Court’s ruling for New London profoundly impacted the contemporary society and its interpretation of “public use”. The court stood by its decision with a ruling of 5-4, which backlashed later on since the interpretation of public use and public purpose had been disfigured. Justice Zarella, who was the only member of the majority ruling, turned out to be right as the plan failed. The NLDC development plan encountered a significant political backlash and further efforts to keep it going failed. One of the state justices who voted for the majority’s opinion, Justice Richard Palmer, apologized to Susette Kelo saying that his vote could have been different had he known that the NLDC development plan was going to fail. (Somin, 2015). 12 years later, Susette was relieved to hear a heartfelt apology from Palmer.
Palmer’s statement was a clear indication of how judges have become sceptical especially about the economic development plans. The scepticism is as a result of Kelo’s case which was decided by the Connecticut Supreme Court in 2004 and later the US Supreme Court 2005. A year later after approval, the land remained barren and undeveloped hence no jobs as promised by the New London state and the community’s economy was not revitalized in any way. In his defence, Palmer explained that they did not have sufficient information on similar projects failing hence the decision. (Somin, 2011). Today, the barren, undeveloped land is still empty although there has been communication that the city plans to build a memorial park to honour Susette Kelo’s and other victims that were affected by the court’s decision in eminent domain. (Somin, 2015). Despite the turnout of events, Palmer and the rest of the justices who made the ruling on this case still maintain that their decision was right at the time, and it was constitutional. (Somin, 2011).

References,. (2015). EY – Global Information Security Survey 2015.,. (2016). KELO V. NEW LONDON.
Somin, I. (2011). Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Apologizes to Susette Kelo for his Vote to Uphold the Condemnation of Her Home – But then Lets Himself off the Hook Too Easily – The Volokh Conspiracy. The Volokh Conspiracy.
Somin, I. (2016). The story behind Kelo v. City of New London – how an obscure takings case got to the Supreme Court and shocked the nation. Washington Post.

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