Kelo v. City of New London is one of the worst Supreme Court decisions of my lifetime (and that’s saying a bit). Once the Court decided that people could be forced to sell their homes to wealthy interests, the gloves were off for developers all over the country. The Institute for Justice — have I said recently how awesome they are? — has the details on the latest atrocity:
Charlie Birnbaum’s is a classic American story. His parents—both immigrants and survivors of the Holocaust—left him many things: a love of this country, a deep passion for music and a home right near the boardwalk in Atlantic City. That home—his parents’ foothold in their adopted country—has been a source of love, tragedy and renewal to the Birnbaum family for the past 45 years. Charlie keeps the ground-floor apartment as a piano studio devoted to the memory of his parents; the top two floors are given over to longtime tenants who pay below-market rents. Charlie lovingly maintains the historic brick home—which was built in 1921—keeping it in excellent condition.
Unfortunately, a state agency, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), is trying to change all that. New Jersey’s CRDA is trying to use eminent domain to seize Charlie’s property as part of a “mixed-use development” project to complement the recently-bankrupt Revel Casino. The trouble is that CRDA has no concrete plans to do anything in particular with Charlie’s property—other than get rid of it. CRDA does not actually need Charlie’s property to develop the surrounding neighborhood. Instead, CRDA is just trying to take Charlie’s home because it thinks it can.
There’s hope here: the New Jersey Superior Court has previously sided with home-owners against this kind of bullshit. The specific bullshit was soi disant conservative Donald Trump trying to seize people’s homes to build a parking lot for limousines. Let’s hope they stomp down on this again.