Synopsis of Rule of Law. A taking by eminent domain will be upheld as long as it is “rationally related to a conceivable public purpose” and “just compensation” is paid to the owner. A valid public purpose can be found in a plan for economic rejuvenation of an overall condemned community, even though some individual properties within that community may not be blighted.
Facts. The City of New London had experienced decades of economic decline, which prompted state officials to target the Fort Trumbull area of New London for a revitalization plan. As part of the revitalization, the state planned to take, by eminent domain, the properties of Plaintiff Kelo, as well as 9 other plaintiffs. The City then planned to give that property to a private developer to turn into, inter alia, research and development office space and parking and retail space to support a new state park, which the City believed would jump-start the area’s rejuvenation. The plaintiffs brought this action in Connecticut Superior Court, alleging that the takings would violate the “public use” restriction of the Fifth Amendment. The trial court granted a permanent restraining order prohibiting the taking of some of the properties but not all. Both sides appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court, which held that all of the City’s proposed takings were valid. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether the takings would satisfy the “public use” requirement of the Fifth Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court held that the takings were valid, and affirmed the judgment of the Connecticut Supreme Court.
Issue. Does a City’s decision to take property for the purpose of economic development satisfy the “public use” requirement of the Fifth Amendment?