The House this week is expected to approve legislation that would overturn a 2005 Supreme Court decision holding that state and local governments can take private property under the principle of eminent domain in order to further their economic development plans.
The 2005 decision, Kelo v. City of New London, was seen by Republicans in particular as a case of government overreach. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution limits the authority of government to seize property, by requiring compensation and mandating that the land taken be put to public use.
Prior to Kelo, the Supreme Court had held that the seizing of slums and the transfer of that land to private developers fit the “public use” standards. But in Kelo, the Supreme Court upheld the right of New London, Conn., to take non-blighted land and transfer it to a private developer, in a bid to increase local tax revenue.