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Kelo developments: one year after

This report is another in a continuing series on the aftermath of Supreme Court decisions. This post involves developments on the one-year anniversary of Kelo v. New London.

President Bush on Friday took the initiative to curb seizures of private property by federal government agencies, limiting somewhat the impact of the Supreme Court’s controversial eminent domain decision in Kelo v. New London, allowing government to seize private property for use in private economic development. The President did not await new legislation from Congress; the Kelo decision has prompted a number of legislative proposals, such as H.R. 4128, which has passed the House but not the Senate. The President instead relied upon his constitutional powers as President, as well as federal laws.

His Executive Order (the text is here) declares it to be national government policy to limit “the taking of private property by the Federal Government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.”

The Order directs the Attorney General to issue instructions to the heads of federal departments and agencies to monitor their “takings” and to ensure that private property is taken only for such public uses as a road, hospital, clinic, park, forest, federal office building, or military reservation. The final paragraph of the Order specifies that it does not create any right to sue the government over property seizures.

Meanwhile, in New London, Conn., the controversy that gave rise to the Court’s ruling appeared to be nearing its end, with an “agreement in principle” between the city and the last of the property-owners — including the lead plaintiff, Susette Kelo. The development is reported in the New London newspaper, the Day; the story is here. A statement by Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell on the agreement can be found here. The governor commented: “It is fitting that we can make this announcement on the first anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Kelo.”

(Thanks to Howard Bashman of How Appealing blog for alerts to these developments, and for his continued reporting on the Kelo aftermath.)