On June 23, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision called Kelo v. City of New London, ruled that private economic development is a public use under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that governments could take people’s homes, small businesses and other property to hand over to private developers in the hope of raising more tax revenue and creating more jobs.
The U.S. Supreme Court should have ruled in favor of the Kelo homeowners and established a federal baseline that would protect home and business owners throughout the nation. Instead, it threw the issue to the states, completely abdicating its role as guardian of Americans’ rights under the U.S. Constitution.
Less than one week after the decision was handed down, the Institute for Justice launched a national campaign called “Hands Off My Home.” IJ was determined to focus the outrage over Kelo and turn it into meaningful reform. In the five years since the decision, there has been an unprecedented backlash against the Kelo ruling in terms of public opinion, citizen activism, legislative changes, state court decisions, and lessons learned from the New London case:
These dramatic changes are briefly addressed in this report.