Civil Liberties Watch: It Is Yours Until A Big Developer Wants It

Kelo v. City of New London effectively turned an explicit constitutional right into a nullity. Though the language of the Fifth Amendment is clear — “nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation” — state and local governments for years had been getting away with using eminent domain to facilitate what amounted to private development. The New London case offered a perfect opportunity to end that abuse, by reaffirming that when the Constitution says “public use,” it means public use. Instead it did the opposite, and Americans were appalled.

…What occurred in New London epitomizes a timeless truth: Where property rights are precarious, freedom is precarious. “Little Pink House,” gripping and infuriating, makes clear what can happen when the government decides your home is no longer your castle.

Jeff Jacoby,Her ‘Little Pink House’ Was Her Castle — Until The Government Said It Wasn’t

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Ahab: “Nabs, quit blubbering. It’s called Eminent Domain, and its right there in the Law.”

    Naboth: “Sire, you keep using that term. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    Ahab: “Look, man, this is a lot better for you than if my wife were to seed a couple slanderous articles about you in the NYT, & I sic a federal prosecutor to rummage around in your @$*#.”

    Naboth: “It’s just not right.”

    Ahab: “It’s gooood to be king.”

  2. Over the decades, “public use” came to be interpreted as “public purpose;” unfortunately, even some state constitutions now explicitly refer to the more flexible “public purpose” standard. Kelo was the third of a trio of cases (Berman v. Parker in 1954; Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff in 1984) which all but erased the “public use” condition from the constitution re exercise of eminent domain.

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