Lynn E. Blais

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In their lead essay for this volume, Wesley Horton and Levesque persuasively demonstrate that the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. City of New London was neither novel nor wrong. They then suggest that Kelo’s detractors drop their continued crusade to overturn that decision and shift their focus from challenging the use of eminent domain for private economic development plans to challenging eminent domain abuse in general. To that end, Horton and Leveque offer the provocative proposal that the Court adopt a ten-factor heightened rational basis test to apply to all condemnations. Using this test, they argue, courts can invalidate ill-advised exercises of eminent domain while upholding condemnations that truly serve a public purpose. I agree with Horton and Levesque’s defense of Kelo. That decision clearly follows from the Court’s prior precedent and correctly implements the Public Use Clause. In this Essay, however, I challenge the wisdom of Horton and Levesque’s proposal to subject all condemnations to heightened rational basis review under their ten-factor test. This proposal, I argue, finds no support in existing doctrine and invites widespread judicial intrusion into the legislative domain in a manner that is neither authorized nor well-advised.