Yesterday, Pfizer announced it was closing its research and development facility in New London, Connecticut. This is the same complex that was at the center of the redevelopment plan at issue in Kelo v. New London. From the Castle Coalition:
This was the same bogus development plan that five justices of the U.S. Supreme Court refused to question when the property owners of New London pleaded to have their homes spared from the wrecking ball. Justices mentioned that there was a plan in place, and that so long as lawmakers who are looking to use eminent domain for someone’s private gain had a plan, the courts would wash their hands. Now, more than four years after the redevelopment scheme passed constitutional muster—allowing government to take land from one private owner only to hand that land over to another private party who happens to have more political influence—the plant that had been the magnet for the development is closing its doors and the very land where Susette Kelo’s home once stood remains barren to all but feral cats, seagulls and weeds.
This turn of events underscores the argument, often employed by eminent domain opponents, that government-sponsored development corporations lack the economic foresight to efficiently make long-term development investment decisions. Those decisions are best made by economic actors in an open marketplace, not by bureaucrats hungry for additional tax revenue and rent-seeking private developers who have no problem promising the moon to said tax-dollar-sign-eyed officials.
The poorly-reasoned Kelo decision did do some good in galvanizing a nation-wide property rights movement, which resulted in the majority of states enacting additional property protections. While the movement has lost a little steam recently, Texas voters just approved a constitutional amendment (with 81 percent support) that will outlaw several more egregious development takings practices.
For more on moving forward on the eminent domain front, see my previous post which outlines four practical reforms for curtailing eminent domain abuse.