The Missouri Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the city of Clayton can’t seize and hand over several parcels of land in downtown Clayton to private developers who are too cheap to pay market value for land to expand Centene Corporation’s headquarters. According to the article, Centene may look elsewhere instead, but unless they’re willing to go somewhere that’s genuinely blighted—say, about 70% of the city of St. Louis—they’re probably bluffing.
I don’t have any particular expertise to offer on the Court’s completely and thoroughly icky decision in Kelo v. New London handed down today—for that, see folks like Orin Kerr and the Crescat gang for the legal nuances—but I will note that I’ve finally learned my lesson: never teach a constitutional law course during a semester while the Court is handing down decisions.
I am somewhat reminded of the Nissan plant case here in Mississippi (discussed here); the prevailing feeling at the time was that the Mississippi Supreme Court probably would have found that taking to be unconstitutional. Mind you, the Mississippi Constitution is rather more explicit in stating that “public use” is a justicible question than the Fifth Amendment of the federal constitution.
Also, my armchair psychoanalysis of Justice Kennedy’s recent “leftward” shift is that he really doesn’t want to be nominated for chief justice when (if?) Rehnquist retires. Not that there was much risk of that happening, mind you, but it’s as good an explanation as any.