Once again, the U.S. Supreme Court is facing a controversial case involving eminent domain and when it can be invoked. This is the second time this issue has landed before the high court in 2 years. How much license should the government have to take your property? On “Power Lunch” Sue Herera asked if this was another case of government gone wild.
The controversy begins with "Kelo v. New London," a 2005 case in which the high court ruled by a 5-4 vote, that cities can take private property and give it to private developers to boost the local economy. The decision sparked outrage among landowners who argued that the ruling was ambiguous.
The case before the court tomorrow, “Didden v. Port Chester” questions whether eminent domain was used as a form of legalized extortion. In this case, landowner Bart Didden claims that a developer convinced the village of Port Chester, N.Y., to seize his land through eminent domain after Didden refused to pay the developer $800,000. (Didden's land had been designed as a "redevelopment area" years earlier.)
Dana Berliner is a Senior Attorney at the Institute for Justice and is representing Didden before the Supreme Court. She told CNBC that the issue here isn’t so much seizing the property as it is the request for money not to seize it. “What happened is, they said 'give me $800,000 or we’ll take it,' and that is absolutely forbidden by the constitution.”
The local government sees it differently. Jeff Finkle, President and CEO of the International Economic Development Council said "Under Kelo the courts clearly talked about redevelopment plans which Port Chester clearly had in this case.”
“The court should take this case,” countered Berliner. “This is the opportunity for the court to really clarify that taking private property for really private uses for certain private people still violates the constitution.”
The Supreme Court decides whether or not to hear the case tomorrow.