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Speech at UPenn Law School on Kelo and Eminent Domain:

VC readers in the Philadelphia area may be interested to know that I will be speaking at UPenn Law School this Wednesday (12 noon-1:20, Silverman Hall, Rm. 240-B) on Kelo v. City of New London, eminent domain abuse, and prospects for reform.

If you read the VC and come to the speech, come up and introduce yourself.

Ragerz (mail):
Of course, if eminent domain isn't used for the purposes that Mr. Somin thinks it should be used for, its "abuse."

I am sorry, but certainly the "public" has an extremely large stake in projects that improve the economy. Just because a project is privately owned does not mean that it isn't of "use" to the public. Indeed, what is more of greater use to the public, a public park, or living in a safer neighborhood with less blight, less crime and good paying jobs? While I would not criticize the use of a job, I can't see how one can seriously argue that a park is a "public use" but living with less crime (and having to pay less for police protection), living with less blight, and having good paying jobs is not a "public use."

I have an idea. Why don't we let the "public" decide what is a "public use" through their elected officials? Or are the horrors of democracy too much to withstand.

Guess what, instead of trying to write a particular ideology into the Constitution, it is also possible to let democracy work. I do believe the focus on the 5th Amendment is "just compensation" not giving unelected and unaccountable judges a license to overturn democratic decisions concerning what is a "public use."

If one thinks that deciding what is and is not a "public use" is the role of judges (when there is nothing other than policy preferences for making that determination) I think you lose all credibility in criticizing "activist" judges in other contexts. Unless your position is, "I don't believe in activist judges, except when they advance my ideology."
10.24.2006 10:15pm
Master Shake:
Here's the whole speech: "Kelo v. City of New London did not alter the law regarding eminent domain."
10.24.2006 11:03pm
Ilya Somin:
Here's the whole speech: "Kelo v. City of New London did not alter the law regarding eminent domain."

My answer to that is, so what (though in fact it did make a few minor changes)? Plessy v. Ferguson did not alter the law on segregation. Buck v. Bell did not alter the law on forced sterilization. Lochner did not significantly alter it on economic liberties and the Due PRocess Clause. That did not prevent those decisions from being criticized and denounced, often rightly so. The same goes for Kelo.
10.25.2006 10:09pm
Ilya Somin:
As for claims that we should just let the "democratic process" decide things, they can be used to attack ANY form of judicial review of ANY issue, not just property rights. As I have explained in many articles, there is little reason to believe that property rights will be well-protected or eminent domain abuse properly curtailed in the absence of judicial review.
10.25.2006 10:11pm