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Glossary

On her dissent in Kelo v. City of New London, Connecticut

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The Supreme Court, in my last year as a justice, an active justice, took a case called Kelo versus Connecticut. It was a case that involved whether a taking by Connecticut of someone's private land, in this case a widow living in her house in the in the area of New London, Connecticut and it was taken by the state, if you will, acting through a local agency of the state, to create a district of property which it intended to then resell to developers who would put on buildings with a much higher tax base and produce revenues for the state and the community of a higher nature. Now the question of federal law under the Constitution was whether that amounted to a taking of property for a legitimate public purpose. If so then fair compensation had to be paid to the owner whose property was taken. And the Supreme Court majority in the Kelo case concluded that it was a legitimate public purpose. Now, in the past the Supreme Court had given wide acceptance, if you will, or approval to determinations at the state and local level of what's a legitimate public purpose. And the Court has deferred in the past to those determinations. And the issue here was whether that went beyond any appropriate deference to the decision. I wrote a dissent in the case and thought that it was not a legitimate public purpose to take private property for the purpose of then reselling it to other private owners to enhance the tax base, that that's not a legitimate public purpose. The majority of the Court held otherwise and approved it and it created a great uproar around America.


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