Government Takings of Private Property: Kelo and the Perfect Storm

PUBLIC OPINION AND CONSTITUTIONAL CONTROVERSY, Nathaniel Persily, Jack Citrin, and Patrick Egan, eds., pp. 287-310, Oxford University Press, 2008

Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 07-05

36 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2007  

Abstract

In Kelo v. City of New London, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that governments are permitted to use the power of eminent domain to force the sale of private property for the purpose of promoting economic development. The decision provoked an unusually widespread popular reaction of outrage. In this chapter, we document the extreme public reaction to Kelo, which cut across political party, race, gender, and education. We focus on the rift between the public's expectations about the circumstances under which government should be permitted to take private property, on the one hand, and eminent domain law, on the other. The Supreme Court has long interpreted the "public use" requirement of the Fifth Amendment quite loosely, but for many decades this went mostly unnoticed by the general public until the Supreme Court declared in Kelo that taking homes for the purpose of economic development satisfies the public use requirement. The Kelo decision seemed to trigger a sudden collective recognition of the Court's public use doctrine, and in this chapter we explore the possible reasons for this change.

Keywords: Law & Psychology, Norms & Informal Order, Property, Land Use & Real Estate Law

Suggested Citation

Nadler, Janice and Diamond, Shari Seidman, Government Takings of Private Property: Kelo and the Perfect Storm. PUBLIC OPINION AND CONSTITUTIONAL CONTROVERSY, Nathaniel Persily, Jack Citrin, and Patrick Egan, eds., pp. 287-310, Oxford University Press, 2008; Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 07-05. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=962170

Janice Nadler (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-3228 (Phone)
312-503-2035 (Fax)

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611

Shari Seidman Diamond

Northwestern University, School of Law & American Bar Foundation ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-2040 (Phone)

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