Supreme Court paved way for possible Preakness condemnation with Kelo decision, delegate says
Del. Sandy Rosenberg, a Baltimore Democrat who teaches law, has an interesting observation about Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan to try to keep the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore through eminent domain, if necessary.
Such a strategy is only an option, Rosenberg writes in his legislative diary, because of the Supreme Court's controversial decision in the Kelo case that quickly became the ire of civil libertarians and others.
Here's what Rosenberg wrote:
If Susette Kelo had won her case in the Supreme Court four years ago, Governor O’Malley’s bill to save the Preakness could not have been introduced [Wednesday].
Ms. Kelo challenged the constitutionality of the City of New London’s using the power of eminent domain to buy her home against her will.
The public purpose that prompted the City’s taking of her property was economic development.
Writing for a 5-4 majority, Justice Stevens held that the Court had a “longstanding policy of deference to legislative judgments” as to what should be considered a public purpose, where the state has formulated a plan that “it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community.”
“Today the Court abandons…[a] long-held, basic limitation on government power,” said a dissenting Justice O’Connor. “Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public.”
House Bill 1578 would give the State the authority to exercise eminent domain to buy Pimlico Race Course and the Preakness Stakes. The Governor’s legislation declares that the race “has a very significant and positive economic development impact on Baltimore City and the State.”
When Ms. Kelo lost her case in 2005, if you had wagered that it would have an impact on the Preakness, you would have gotten great odds. And today, you would have collected your winnings.