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The Grasping Hand"Kelo v. City of New London" and the Limits of Eminent Domain$
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Ilya Somin

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226256603

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226256740.001.0001

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Why the Backlash Often Fell Short

Why the Backlash Often Fell Short

(p.165) Chapter Six Why the Backlash Often Fell Short
The Grasping Hand

Ilya Somin

University of Chicago Press

This chapter describes the massive political backlash generated by the Kelo decision, which was in many ways greater than that which resulted from any other modern Supreme Court decision. Polls showed that over 80% of the public opposed the ruling, a sentiment that cut across racial, partisan, and ideological lines. A record 45 states adopted eminent domain reform laws in the wake of the decision, as did the federal government. But while some of these laws were strong and effective, a majority provided little if any meaningful new protection for property owners. Many banned takings for “economic development,” but continued to permit very similar “blight” condemnations, under definitions of blight so broad that virtually any area could be declared blighted and subject to condemnation. However, state reforms enacted by referendum tended to be much stronger than those enacted through the regular legislative process.

Keywords:   political ignorance, knowledge, voting, public opinion, referenda, rational ignorance, state legislatures, state politics

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