PHOENIX - The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that the U.S. Constitution does not protect property owners from government seizures for redevelopment purposes.
The ruling in Kelo v. City of New London is a defeat for Connecticut residents whose homes will now be razed to make room for an office complex. In speaking for the 5-4 majority, Justice Stevens held that "the city's proposed disposition of petitioners' property qualifies as a 'public use' within the meanings of the takings clause."
"It's a tragic day when the U.S. Supreme Court drains a constitutional guarantee of meaning," explains Goldwater Institute senior fellow Clint Bolick. "That's the worst type of judicial activism."
In her stinging dissent, Justice O'Connor wrote, "Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded . . . [T]he fallout will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process."
The Goldwater Institute filed an amicus brief in the landmark case contending that the use of eminent domain for redevelopment purposes violates Fifth Amendment private property protections, which state that "no person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."
Goldwater Institute president and CEO Darcy Olsen observes that "the U.S. Constitution is a floor, not a ceiling. We will continue fighting against unjust takings under the Arizona State Constitution, which contains stringent protections for private property owners."
Andrea Woodmansee, Director of Communications, Goldwater Institute, (602) 712-1257, firstname.lastname@example.org
Clint Bolick, Senior Fellow, Goldwater Institute, (602) 468-0900
Tim Keller, Executive Director, Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter, (602) 324-5440