Sure, there’s some broader “justice” to it, but really law is all about defining lines. That popular question, Can we torture or can we not torture? begins with deciding what “torture” means.
Similarly, Can government take your blighted property or can’t it? Well — does “blighted” mean “decrepit and overrun by dangerous junkies,” or does it mean “put to suboptimal use by one stubborn lady”?
Here’s a reminder that the Takings clause exists for a reason (tho post-Kelo line-drawing is still critical!):
Minus Eminent Domain, Cities Die
Your Nov. 11 editorial “Pfizer and Kelo’s Ghost Town” decries the powers of eminent domain on the basis of a single project—one that is atypical. What about Lincoln Center, Times Square, Columbia University’s expansion and all the developments that have revitalized blighted neighborhoods?
Without question, eminent domain—the power to take ownership of private property and assemble sites for construction of projects that serve a public purpose—should be used judiciously. Most states and localities ensure full public review, due process and fair compensation to property owners in connection with takings.
Without power to assemble sites to keep pace with demands of a modern economy, our cities would be doomed to decay. Prohibit condemnation of rural farms and greenfields, but allow cities to constantly renew themselves, or they will die.
Cities need every means at their disposal to attract private investment and encourage development. Without the ability to assemble sites that can be redeveloped, we will have brownfields where green buildings should rise, vacant manufacturing lofts where biotech labs are needed. When used well, eminent domain is a critical tool for keeping our economy growing.
President & CEO
Partnership for New York City