Monday, June 25, 2007

The 'Blight' Excuse for eminent domain

From the weekend edition (June 23/24) of the Wall Street Journal, in an op-ed headlined The 'Blight' Excuse (subscribers only), Carla Main observes that, two years after the controversial Kelo v. New London decision, which affirmed the use of eminent domain for economic development, states and courts have responded by curbing that option--but another remains:

Armed with a blight exception, private property in nearly all of the loophole states may still be condemned and ultimately used for economic development...

But what is blight? A half-century of experience has demonstrated only that it is in the eye of the beholder, or perhaps more to the point, in the eye of the power holder.


Now New York's blight law may not be as bad as, for example, that in New Jersey, where courts have begun to reform it. But it's still arbitrary.

The question, as Supreme Court Justice Joan A. Madden must face in the pending challenge to the Atlantic Yards environmental review, is whether it's so arbitrary that it violates state law.

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