Supreme Court to hear New London eminent domain case Feb. 22 — Associated Press, 12/16/04

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on Feb. 22 in a New London eminent domain case that could clarify when governments may seize people's property for economic development projects.

Twenty-five groups with assorted political views have filed briefs in support of the Fort Trumbull residents who are resisting the city's effort to take their houses to make way for offices and a hotel that will strengthen the city's tax base.

The 25 amicus briefs filed in the case represent the whole spectrum of political and social philosophy.
[Editor's note: links to copies of all briefs are online at

Among the people and groups that have rallied behind the property owners are the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, urban policy scholar Jane Jacobs, the Congress for New Urbanism, the AARP, the American Farm Bureau, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the National Association of Home Builders and the National Associated of Realtors.

The homeowners are being represented by the Institute for Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based group that fights eminent domain abuses nationwide.

At issue in the case is whether governments, claiming the need to produce jobs and tax revenue, can take private homes and businesses and hand them to developers who make promises of economic growth.

While the city and New London Development Corp. will argue that such development improves public welfare as a whole, the Institute for Justice and its allies believe that such takings undermine property rights and disrupt communities rather than strengthen them.

One theme common to many of the amicus briefs is the belief that eminent domain, specifically when invoked for economic development, inflicts harm on residents while awarding profits to private developers who might use their money and influence to win special indulgences from governments.

The Associated Press: www.ap.org