Monday, November 09, 2009
There is one more coda in what is probably the most-controversial-office-park-development in recent memory, the Pfizer facility that ousted Susette Kelo from her house in New London, Connecticut. The Hartford Courant reports:
Pfizer Inc. will shut down its massive New London research and development headquarters and transfer most of the 1,400 people working there to Groton, the pharmaceutical giant said Monday.
Susette Kelo's house has since been relocated elsewhere in New London. I wonder if she will be allowed to move it back.
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The Kelo development reminded me of Youngblood v. Arizona, 488 U.S. 51 (1988). In both cases, the Supreme Court ruined someone's life...But at least the government machine was able to keep turning its gears.
Some would say that the Court should not concern itself with the real-world impact of its cases. Yet in the Pottawattamie County v. Mcghee oral argument, several justices nearly had heart attacks over their concern for prosecutors. Would allowing an innocent man to sue the prosecutor who framed him have policy implications for prosecutors?
You rarely see that such policy concerns for the "little guy." Why weren't the Justices in Kelo wondering whether forcing Ms. Kelo to surrender her home would be for naught? In Youngblood, why wasn't the Court concerned with the policy implications of a rule that allows prosecutors to throw away exculpatory evidence?
Posted by: Mike | Nov 10, 2009 12:54:13 PM
Why weren't the Justices in Kelo wondering whether forcing Ms. Kelo to surrender her home would be for naught?
Before we cry too much for Kelo, let's recall that she was owed and received just compensation for the taking. The popular narrative had her thrown out in the cold, but anyone who's read the Fifth Amendment knows that this can't happen until government throws some money at you. There's a lot of writing that questions whether money can make someone whole for the loss of their home, but there are also suggestions in the literature that governments systematically overcompensate owners whose property is confiscated pursuant to the eminent domain power. Kelo may have made out like a bandit, despite the tears and violins, and unless we have some sense of that all the drama seems inapposite.
Posted by: Dave | Nov 10, 2009 10:38:48 PM
Preparing to teach Kelo tomorrow reminded me to follow up on this post with some facts I looked up earlier this year. The City of New London settled with Suzette Kelo in 2006 for $442k. The appraised value of her house in 2000 was $140k. That's a net profit of over $300k in six years. I realize that the harm of eminent domain may be dignitary as well as monetary, but still--that's a pretty nice profit, even in the overheated real estate market of the early 2000s. Doesn't this have to change the extent to which we see Kelo as a tragic victim of government abuse?
Posted by: Dave | Nov 19, 2009 2:09:20 AM
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