This memorandum serves to analyze the arguments put forth by Kelo v. City of New London, concerning the constitutionality of the takings of property by the City of New London for economic development. Specifically it will look at the arguments made in the case about whether the attainment of private property by the City of New London for the purpose of economic development that would support private development meet the public use requirement of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment as applied to the states. This memorandum will first give the facts that lead to the case, followed by an analysis of the majority opinion and concurring opinion, then the dissents will be analyzed, and finally two lessons learned for the case will be identified.
New London is a city in southeastern Connecticut with an approximate population of 24,000. The city suffered through an economic decline and was designated a distressed municipality in 1990. Later, the ...view middle of the document...
The plan sought to develop a 90-acre area on the Thames River near Fort Trumbull State Park and Pfizer's global research facility, which was slated to open in 2001. The proposed development plan would complement the facility that Pfizer was planning to build, create jobs, increase tax revenue, encourage public access to the waterfront, and lead to increased renewal of the rest of the city.
In order to implement this plan, the NLDC agreed to use the power of eminent domain to acquire properties in the area if the owners were not willing to sell. Subsequently, the NLDC adopted a plan under a state statute that permitted municipalities to acquire, improve, and transfer property for new development. That statute indicated how municipalities must implement these tasks and clearly permits them to obtain property through negotiation or eminent domain. Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469, 476 (2005).
The owners of the fifteen properties disputed the takings in state court, arguing that NLDC violated the Connecticut and United States constitutional bans against taking property for public use without just compensation. Four of the properties, located in parcel 3, which was the designated area for the research and office space, and eleven properties were in parcel 4A, which were allocated for park support were the properties involved in the dispute. Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469, 494(2005). After a seven-day bench trial, the Superior Court upheld some of the takings, parcel 3, and overturned the others, parcel 4A, which led both parties to appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court. The Connecticut Supreme Court upheld all of the takings on the grounds that they were rationally necessary to complete the plan's economic development goals. The dissenting justices agreed that the plan served a valid public purpose, but found the takings unconstitutional because the city failed to show how they would reach those goals. The owners appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming that the takings violated the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause.