Landmark Eminent Domain Case Ends In Tragedy

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Unless you're a libertarian, or a lawyer, you probably didn't pay too much attention to Kelo v. New London, an eminent domain case that worked its way all up to the Supreme Court.  New London wanted to hand over its ability to seize private homes to a private entity, the New London Development Corp, in order to "develop" the area for Pfizer, which had a plant in the area.  Libertarians objected strenuously, and helped Susette Kelo push her claim to the highest court of the land . . . which then ruled against her.

Now Pfizer is pulling out, following their merger with Wyeth.  Incoming mayor Robert M. Pero wanly says:  "Basically, our economy lost a thousand jobs, but we still have a building". 

Alex Tabarrok coins an aphorism:  "Those who would sacrifice property rights to development end up with neither."  Too true--it's worth noting that the other landmark eminent domain case, Poletown, was in Detroit.  But it's not really that tempting to gloat, because this is a pretty tragic disaster for New London.


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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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