The Supreme Court’s landmark public use decision Kelo v. City of New London was handed down three years ago today. On June 23, 2005, Justices Stevens handed down an opinion that held that “there is no basis for exempting economic development from our traditionally broad understanding of public purpose.” Justices Kennedy, Souter, Breyer, and Ginsburg signed on to their eldest colleague’s opinion against dissent from Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices O’Connor, Thomas, and Scalia. An excerpt from Justice Thomas’ dissent:

The Court relies almost exclusively on this Court’s prior cases to derive today’s far-reaching, and dangerous, result. See ante, at 8—12. But the principles this Court should employ to dispose of this case are found in the Public Use Clause itself, not in Justice Peckham’s high opinion of reclamation laws, see supra, at 11. When faced with a clash of constitutional principle and a line of unreasoned cases wholly divorced from the text, history, and structure of our founding document, we should not hesitate to resolve the tension in favor of the Constitution’s original meaning.

The opinion is a fascinating one and, at only 58 pages, it makes for a quick read. Check it out here.


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