by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Since the Supreme Court’s decision, Kelo has become a rallying point for proponents of stronger protections for property rights. President George W. Bush responded to the ruling at the federal level by issuing an executive order stipulating that eminent domain was to be restricted to “the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties.”
As of 2015, 45 states had enacted laws also meant to limit eminent domain abuse. This was significant in that, “no other Supreme Court decision in all of American history has generated so much state legislation,” wrote constitutional scholar Ilya Somin.
Still, while states have reacted against eminent domain abuse, it remains a legal and political issue. The Institute for Justice, the public interest law firm that represented the plaintiffs in Kelo, has filed fourteen cases with the aim of “restor[ing] strict limits for when the government can use eminent domain.” Most recently, IJ successfully represented a West Haven, Conn. resident against a city plan to seize his home, tear it down, and build a shopping plaza.
It is in this context that Little Pink House’s directors aimed to share Kelo’s story. According to filmmaker Courtney Moorehead Balaker, the film is meant to be “the centerpiece of an impact campaign designed to end eminent domain abuse.”
“Eminent domain abuse is a fancy term for legalized bullying. It happens when insiders take advantage of outsiders … all the high-minded talk obscures what’s really going on—they’re forcing people out of their homes. If you own your home and you want to keep living in your home, you should be able to stay in your home,” Balaker said.