Kelo v. City of New London: The More Things Stay the Same, the More They Change

Calfee, Corinne
August 2006
Ecology Law Quarterly;2006, Vol. 33 Issue 3, p545
Academic Journal
In Kelo v. City of New London, the Supreme Court upheld the traditionally broad definition of "public use" and the use of judicial deference to legislative decisions to exercise the power of eminent domain. This holding was appropriate: governments at all levels need the flexibility to exercise the power of eminent domain in the face of changing, social needs, without the judiciary second-guessing each decision. Political and fiscal limitations already constrain the exercise of eminent domain. At the same time, the Kelo decision may have opened the door to future changes in the level of judicial scrutiny applied in eminent domain decisions by implying that comprehensive planning could help justify a project. The immediate aftermath suggests that the Kelo decision may catalyze a dramatic change in property rights as state legislatures have acted quickly and decisively to limit the definition of public use. Thus the petitioners in Kelo may have lost the battle, but they seem to be winning the war as laws around the county change in the direction they sought.


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