17 August 2005

Kelo Gets Even Worse

You may recall that I wrote a rather scathing post about the Kelo vs. New London SCOTUS decision that gave the Constitutionally dubious thumbs-up to the “eminent domain” land-grab by the city of New London to make way for a new hotel, conference center, and housing/office space complex. Well, turns out it gets even better (read: worse)—the city is now claiming that the people who are so stubbornly clinging to their homes owe back rent (and more, actually—they apparently want any and all rent collected for rental properties as well) for all of the time since the city initially made the eminent domain claim back in 2000. The amounts involved here are mind-blowing:

An NLDC estimate assessed Dery [who owns four buildings on the disputed property] for $6,100 per month since the takeover, a debt of more than $300K. One of his neighbors, case namesake Susette Kelo, who owns a single-family house with her husband, learned she would owe in the ballpark of 57 grand. “I'd leave here broke,” says Kelo. “I wouldn't have a home or any money to get one. I could probably get a large-size refrigerator box and live under the bridge.”

Dafydd over at Captain’s Quarters captures the mood well:

Sometimes, you almost have to laugh. But it’s a nervous sort of laugh, like when your next-door neighbor launches into a tirade about the interstellar aliens who have taken over all the PTAs in the county.

The development company is also (legally, actually) only reimbursing the erstwhile residents for the equivalent 2000 rent, since that’s when eminent domain was claimed. As Dafydd also points out, “[s]ince there has been a considerable rise in the value of real estate in the last five years, this means that the residents [...] will probably be paid less in compensation than they are assessed in rent... and far too little to buy a new house to replace the one seized.” If New London (CNL) is permitted to have its way, the lives of these people will be destroyed. They will have no homes, no money to buy new ones elsewhere, and will very likely be tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Sounds fun, ne?

There’s been a lot of gab online lately about the judicial principle of stare decisis, much in the context of newly nominated SCOTUS prospect John Roberts and his position on Roe vs. Wade. In general, I think it’s a good thing, as it provides long-term stability to judicial decisions and prevents them from being overruled lightly. But, as above-linked m-w.com definition says, the principle should only apply when decisions don’t “contravene the ordinary principles of justice.”

Kill it! Kill it now, before it eats us all!!!

(Hat tip: Captain’s Quarters)

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