What we mean when we talk about the Ownership Society
Government Power to Take Property Backed by Top Court
Local governments have broad power to take over private property to make way for shopping malls, office parks and sports stadiums, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled.Hell, if this is all about economic development and boosting the tax base, why not run some real deadbeats outta town?
The court said government agencies can constitutionally take property in the name of economic development -- and even transfer it to another private party -- as long as the landowners receive compensation. The 5-4 ruling today came in a case involving land near a Pfizer Inc. plant in New London, Connecticut.
``Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government,'' Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the court in Washington. He said the justices ``decline to second-guess the city's considered judgments about the efficacy of its development plan.''
The ruling is a setback for property-rights advocates angered by what they said is an increasingly common practice, now used thousands of times a year.
``Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random,'' Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said in dissent. ``The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.''
New London is seeking to raze a residential neighborhood to make room for a five-star hotel, luxury condominiums and office buildings near the Pfizer research facility. The city says it is trying to reverse decades of economic decline.