Kelo… redevelopment project area.. four year later

When meeting victims of eminent domain abuse you feel powerless to come to their aide other than to see if there were any mistakes in the process that could be contested before the bulldozer arrives at their front door without an invitation.

We met New London, CT victims Susette Kelo and the Cristofaro’s, along with many other victims of eminent domain who came from cities around the country at a Castle Coalition conference dinner held in the Washington DC area three years ago.

In the infamous Kelo decision one of the justices stated that it is not their purview to verify if the proposed improvements will pencil out. That’s not their job.
Well, the Institute for Justice, whose attorney’s fought valiantly to save Susette Kelo’s home in New London, CT, have just provided an update on that development project which is contained in their latest Press Release which I have added below.


November 9, 2009

The End of an Eminent Domain Error:
Pfizer R&D Headquarters Closes in New 
 London, Conn.

Land Taken in Infamous Kelo Supreme Court Case Remains Empty More Than Four Years After Ruling
Arlington, Va.—Pfizer, Inc., announced today that the company will be closing its former research and development headquarters in New London, Conn.  This was a project that involved massive corporate welfare and led to the abuse of eminent domain that ultimately bulldozed the home of Susette Kelo and her neighbors in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London.

This was the same bogus development plan that five justices of the U.S. Supreme Court refused to question when the property owners of New London pleaded to have their homes spared from the wrecking ball.  Justices mentioned that there was a plan in place, and that so long as lawmakers who are looking to use eminent domain for someone’s private gain had a plan, the courts would wash their hands.  Now, more than four years after the redevelopment scheme passed constitutional muster—allowing government to take land from one private owner only to hand that land over to another private party who happens to have more political influence—the plant that had been the magnet for the development is closing its doors and the very land where Susette Kelo’s home once stood remains barren to all but feral cats, seagulls and weeds.

Scott Bullock, who argued the Kelo case for the Institute for Justice on behalf of the New London homeowners, said, “Today’s announcement that Pfizer is closing its research facility in New London demonstrates the folly of government plans that involve massive corporate welfare and that abuse eminent domain for private development.  The majority opinion in Kelo v. New London described the Fort Trumbull project as a ‘carefully considered’ plan, but it has been an unmitigated disaster from start—and now—to finish.”

Bullock continued, “Project supporters blame the economic downturn for this turn of events.  That is all the more reason why taxpayer dollars should not be put at risk in speculative and risky development schemes.”

Despite the Court’s Kelo ruling, much change for the good has occurred.

Dana Berliner, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice and co-counsel in the Kelo case, said, “In the face of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Kelo ruling, 43 states have now reformed their laws to better protect property owners.  What’s more, seven state high courts have stepped in post-Kelo to protect the rights of homeowners against eminent domain abuse.  The high courts of Hawaii, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Missouri, New Jersey and Rhode Island have all ruled in favor of property owners and against eminent domain for private gain.  None has made Kelo the rule under their own state constitutions.”

The tragic saga of the Kelo case is detailed in Jeff Benedict’s book Little Pink House:  A True Story of Defiance and Courage (Grand Central Publishing; 2009).  In it, Benedict shares with readers how Kelo took on the City of New London, a cast of politically powerful villains and, ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a case that sparked a revolutionary change nationwide in eminent domain laws—except in Connecticut.
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Christina Walsh
Director of Activism and Coalitions
Institute for Justice
901 N. Glebe Road, Suite 900
Arlington, VA 22203
(703) 682-9320
(703) 682-9321 – fax

Note: Larry Gilbert, Member, Institute for  Justice’s Castle Coalition

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