In a disappointing move, the Supreme Court decided today in Kelo et al. vs. City of New London that a city may seize private property to give it to another private entity.
While generally I believe that the good of the many outweighs the good of the few, I was troubled by this case. The New London Development Corporation wanted to bulldoze people’s (owned, maintained, and unblighted) homes and small businesses in order to build a commercial development. I suppose it just strikes me in this instance that maybe this was a case of the good of the few vs. the possible good/possible bad of the many. Yes, New London needs to reach out and attract more businesses and tourists to its shoreline city. And, yes, the tax base does need to be bolstered. But this didn’t necessarily strike me as the best way to go about it.
The Court’s majority believed that a city generally has the overall best interest of its citizens at heart and that they would not knowingly put their citizens at risk simply for economic gain.
Oddly enough, it was the conservatives who ruled against big business and for the little guy. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor argued against uprooting families in order to accomodate wealthy and powerful developers: “Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random,” she wrote for the minority. “The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.”
Some New London residents say they will barricade themselves in their homes to avoid being pushed out.
This case has repercussions throughout the nation where thousands of residents face eminent domain for private development. The repercussions here in D.C. include the new baseball stadium, which stands to be built where private businesses currently exist.
Sufficed to say, I’m disappointed to see this turn of events.