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The Grasping Hand
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The Grasping Hand: 'Kelo v. City of New London' and the Limits of Eminent Domain

Ilya Somin


In Kelo v. City of New London (2005), the Supreme Court ruled that government can take private property and give it to another private owner in order to promote “economic development,” even though the Fifth Amendment only allows condemnations that are for a “public use.” The ruling was a grave error. Both originalist and most “living constitution” theories of constitutional interpretation lead to the conclusion that economic development and the closely related “blight” condemnations are not permissible public uses. Economic development and blight condemnations also inflict great harm, often de ... More

Keywords: eminent domain, property, property rights, public use, constitutional law, originalism, living constitutionalism, Supreme Court, Kelo, economic development

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780226422169
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226456829.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Ilya Somin, author
George Mason University School of Law