Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Court of Appeals' Atlantic Yards decision gets singled out in IJ's post-Kelo report

The libertarian Institute for Justice has issued a report titled Five Years After Kelo: The Sweeping Backlash Against One of the Supreme Court’s Most-Despised Decisions.

And, not surprisingly, New York is singled out as not having made any reforms, with the November 2009 Atlantic Yards case, Goldstein vs. Empire State Development Corporation, singled out:
There is one significant exception to this good news for property owners in state courts—New York. The Court of Appeals (New York’s highest court) seems stuck in the days when courts routinely ignored evidence of eminent domain abuse, refusing to give the facts any real scrutiny at all. This latest ruling from the court, which completely ignores the fundamental role of the courts in properly interpreting essential constitutional rights, tells the whole story:

It may be that the bar has now been set too low—that what will now pass as “blight,” as that expression has come to be understood and used by political appointees to public corporations relying upon studies paid for by developers, should not be permitted to constitute a predicate for the invasion of property rights and the razing of homes and businesses. But any such limitation upon the sovereign power of eminent domain as it has come to be defined in the urban renewal context is a matter for the Legislature, not the courts.

The Court of Appeals does have a chance to redeem itself in another challenge to a completely trumped-up claim of blight, combined with concealment of relevant evidence, in another case currently pending before it. New Yorkers can only hope the Court of Appeals will remove its head from the sand before reaching its final decision.
The latter is the case involving the Columbia University expansion; a decision is expected in a few weeks.

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