Three years ago, in the famous Kelo decision, the U.S. Supreme Court expanded the power of the â€œtakings clauseâ€ in the Constitution to allow municipalities to condemn private property and give it over to private developers so long as the action provided appreciable benefits to the community. Thanks to Kelo, if a city argues that a shopping mall or luxury condominium would be more economically beneficial than your home, then the government can condemn your home.
Kelo was an incredible unpopular decision but, as Steven Malangaâ€™s excellent article points out, governments have not hesitated to take advantage of the new rules.
But do such government-driven redevelopments actually improve communities? Malanga argues that they generally donâ€™t and I suggest you read his whole piece to understand why this kind of heavy-handed economic action is most often a bad idea.
But I wanted to share this tidbit with you because itâ€™s so representative of what damage the overzealous use of imminent domain can cause:
The ground where Susette Keloâ€™s home stood is now barren, because the townhouses that the city-sponsored developer was supposed to build there have never gone up. Interest in the area isnâ€™t very great and the developer hasnâ€™t been able to get financing.
Yes, the very house that launched the Kelo case was destroyed by developers and then left as a vacant lot.
Exactly who has this helped?