Supreme Court upholds government land grabs for developers
By John Andrews and Barry Grey
27 June 2005
The US Supreme Court ruled June 23 that local governments have broad powers to force people out of their homes to make way for private developments, despite the constitutional proviso that government takings must be for a “public use.”
The 5-4 majority in Kelo v. City of New London consisted of the four “liberal” justices—John Paul Stevens, who authored the opinion, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and David Souter—and “swing” justice Anthony Kennedy. Despite the lineup of dissenters—right-wingers William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, along with “swing” justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the decision is deeply anti-democratic.
The ruling openly places the authority of the high court on the side of private developers and their financial backers seeking to force people out of their homes for the sake of corporate profit and personal gain. These narrow private interests and their allies in government now have the imprimatur of the Supreme Court to apply “eminent domain”—the government’s power of condemnation—to seize homes and land parcels for commercial developments such as office complexes, malls, hotels, sports arenas or other privately-owned projects solely on the basis of claims to promote economic development.