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  • Introduction

    Kelo v. City of New London was one of the most controversial decisions in Supreme Court history. The 2005 case ruled that the Fifth Amendment, which permits condemnations only for ―public use,‖ allows governments to condemn private property for transfer to other private parties in order to promote "economic development." Kelo triggered an unprecedented political backlash. Surveys showed that some eighty percent of the public opposed the decision, which was also denounced by politicians and activists from across the political spectrum. Forty-three states and the federal government enacted legislation intended to curb economic development takings; this is probably the broadest legislative reaction ever generated by any Supreme Court ruling. In addition to the better-known legislative reaction, Kelo was also followed by extensive additional property rights litigation in both federal and state courts. In the aftermath of Kelo, several state supreme courts addressed the question of whether its deferential approach to economic development takings also applied under their state constitutional public use clauses. Both federal and state courts have sought to interpret Kelo’s statement that "pretextual" takings are an exception to the decision‘s generally ultra-deferential approach. Finally, several important recent state court decisions considered the implications of Kelo for condemnations of "blighted" property.