Kelo v. City Of New London

545 U. S. 469 (2005)


New London (D) approved a development plan that was “projected to create in excess of 1,000 jobs, to increase tax and other revenues, and to revitalize an economically distressed city, including its downtown and waterfront areas. D’s development agent had purchased property from willing sellers and proposes to use the power of eminent domain to acquire the remainder of the property from unwilling owners in exchange for just compensation. In 1998, the City’s unemployment rate was nearly double that of the State, and its population of just under 24,000 residents was at its lowest since 1920. The New London Development Corporation (NLDC), a private nonprofit entity established some years earlier to assist the City in planning economic development, was reactivated. In January 1998, the State authorized a $5.35 million bond issue to support the NLDC’s planning activities and a $10 million bond issue toward the creation of a Fort Trumbull State Park. In February, Pfizer Inc. announced that it would build a $300 million research facility on a site immediately adjacent to Fort Trumbull; local planners hoped that Pfizer would draw new business to the area. The NLDC intended the development plan to capitalize on the arrival of the Pfizer facility and the new commerce it was expected to attract. The plan was also designed to make D more attractive and to create leisure and recreational opportunities on the waterfront and in the park. Kelo (P) has lived in the Fort Trumbull area since 1997. Petitioner Dery was born in her Fort Trumbull house in 1918 and has lived there her entire life. Her husband Charles (also a petitioner) has lived in the house since they married some 60 years ago. Ps brought this action in the New London Superior Court claiming that D's plan would violate the “public use” restriction in the Fifth Amendment. The Superior Court granted a permanent restraining order prohibiting the taking of the properties located in parcel 4A (park or marina support). It denied relief as to the properties located in parcel 3 (office space). Both sides appealed to the Supreme Court of Connecticut. It ruled that all of Ds proposed takings were valid. Three dissenting justices would have imposed a “heightened” standard of judicial review for takings justified by economic development. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.