"It's desperately hard to believe that in this country you can lose your home to private developers," New London homeowner Bill Von Winkle told The New York Times after the ruling. "It's basically corporate theft." But it's corporate theft that will enrich New London, so Von Winkle's home could become Pfizer's castle.
The libertarian-learning Institute of Justice, which represented Kelo, Von Winkle and their neighbors, held a press conference Wednesday to announce a new effort to fight back, as it champions the thousands of homeowners it believes are the targets of overreaching eminent domain. The campaign's name: Hands Off My Home.
Another victim of this government-run-amok trend, Denise Hoagland, who owns a home on the Jersey shore, told reporters: "Our homes are not blighted. This can happen to you." Institute for Justice spokesman John Kramer noted governments' appetite for seizing waterfront homes and figured their philosophy must be, "The poor don't deserve a view."
The Institute for Justice is well aware of the fact that both liberals and conservatives are appalled at the Kelo v. New London ruling. San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi told me he was "fearful of" the ruling, as it may adversely affect "people who are not able to defend themselves." Meanwhile, Thomas' dissenting opinion addresses the inequities of a policy that falls hardest on "the least politically powerful'' -- that is, owners of lower-end homes.
Institute for Justice attorney Dana Berliner argued that New London could have had its development project and still accommodated the homeowners.
New London, she noted, "doesn't need these homes." But the New London Development Corp. didn't want these older homes in its tony project. So the homes must go.
On July 5, protesters will ask the New London City Council to spare the homes of Kelo, Dery and their co-litigants. New London should comply. Why? The New London Development Corp. wants to seize these homes for the worst reason of all: because it can.