Home of Susette Kelo

Susette Kelo’s home in New London, Conn. (photo by Isaac Reese, 2004 © Institute for Justice).

A Kelo of Prevention

So far, the American people — not the justices of the Supreme Court majority — have had the final word on Kelo v. New London. Outrage over the court’s decision is so widespread that the city of New London has postponed its plans. Susette Kelo and her neighbors continue to live in their homes and to fight for their right to remain there.

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The property rights that inspired America’s Founders remain relevant today. More than at any time in our past, Americans value equal respect for all, regardless of race, creed, sex or income.

People of Poletown

A woman embraces two children in the Poletown enclave of Detroit, Mich.

Yet as Justice O’Connor noted in her Kelo dissent, abuse of eminent domain usually benefits "those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process. ..." The result, whether in Poletown or New London, is an almost aristocratic advantage for those who are exceptionally successful and likely to pay more taxes than the current property owners.

That advantage can be used against most other Americans, including middle-income citizens whose homes are suddenly declared "blighted" or lower-income homeowners who live respectably in struggling neighborhoods. Eminent domain abuse means those who are lower on society’s ladder will not receive equal treatment under the law.

That is not what this country has fought so hard to achieve.