The Supreme Court case of Kelo vs. New London stirred outrage in the hearts of millions. I freely admit I was one of them. The idea that the government can take your property and essentially give it to someone else because they might raise more tax revenue disgusted me to no end. Now, years after the decision, the land in question sits barren. Now, no one is living there or operating a business there. It is, quite literally, a dump.
And people question cosmic justice.
The Hartford Courant has a piece that is worth sharing. It’s written by Jeff Benedict, who covered the Kelo case from the very beginning. He’s since written a book about the case. In the book, he shares a story about an encounter after a dinner honoring the Connecticut in may of last year. He was giving the keynote address about the case. There with him was Susette Kelo, the principle defendent.
Afterward, Susette and I were talking in a small circle of people when we were approached by Justice Richard N. Palmer. Tall and imposing, he is one of the four justices who voted with the 4-3 majority against Susette and her neighbors. Facing me, he said: “Had I known all of what you just told us, I would have voted differently.”
was speechless. So was Susette. One more vote in her favor by the Connecticut Supreme Court would have changed history. The case probably would not have advanced to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Susette and her neighbors might still be in their homes.
Then Justice Palmer turned to Susette, took her hand and offered a heartfelt apology. Tears trickled down her red cheeks. It was the first time in the 12-year saga that anyone had uttered the words “I’m sorry.”
It was all she could do to whisper the words: “Thank you.”