POV: The City of New London
1. IDENTIFICATION OF “CRITICAL OR RELEVANT FACTS” FROM THE CASE In the 2005 US Supreme Court decided on the case of Kelo vs City of New London. Inherent to the case was a challenge to the concept of “eminent domain” and its relation to the 5th Amendment of the US Constitution. The town of New London, CT, planned to develop an area of 90 acres, divided into 7 parcels, along the Thames River / Fort Trumball area in an effort to revitalize the town’s ailing economy. The project was projected to create in excess of 1,000 jobs, to increase tax and other revenues, and to revitalize an economically distressed city, including its downtown and waterfront areas1. Plans for waterfront recreation and shopping areas and a large facility owned by the Phizer Corporation were created as part of the revitalization plan. The city acquired the majority of the land required for the project, but some residents refused to sell their land. Engaging their case in the legal system, the land owners claimed inter-alia, that taking their property is in violation of the public use restriction in the 5th Amendment2. The case was taken to the City of New London, who originally upheld the city’s claim that the land taken was for public use. When the case came before the Connecticut State Court of Appeals, the city’s decision was overturned. Finally, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine “whether a city’s decision to take property for the purpose of economic development satisfies the “public use” requirement of the fifth amendment2.” The Supreme Court ruled, with a decision of five to four, that the City of New London was permitted under the Constitution to take private land (with “just compensation”) for the purpose of public use.