Sunday, April 29, 2018

USA Today Review of an Excellent, Must-see Movie, “Little Pink House.”

By Glenn Harlan Reynolds, Opinion columnist April 16, 2018
 Susette Kelo's 'Little Pink House' movie shed lights on an often-ignored subject: Whether or not the government has the right to take your property.

Like some sort of HGTV dream, Susette Kelo found a house in the perfect location and within her budget.  She lovingly restored and updated it, and lived there happily ever after. Well, until she was thrown out, to be precise.  Because it wasn’t an HGTV dream, but an eminent domain nightmare.

Her “little pink house” (the color was actually called “Odessa Rose”) was condemned to make space for an industrial development project. She fought the condemnation all the way to the Supreme Court but — in what was something less than the usual rosy Hollywood ending —she lost. Her home was taken, her neighborhood was demolished, and then, adding insult to injury, the industrial redevelopment fell through and it turned out to have all been for nothing. . . .

I was fortunate enough to get an advance screener, and showed the film, which opens later this week, to my Constitutional Law class at the University of Tennessee. (You can see a trailer here.) My verdict: Little Pink House is an outstanding and moving treatment of a legal issue that gets far too little attention: The extent to which the state can take your property away just because it thinks it has a better use for it.

The Bill of Rights is supposed to protect your property. It provides that private property can’t be taken from its owners except for public use, and with the payment of “just compensation” to its owners. But the way that both of those concepts have been applied by the courts is problematic, to say the least.

Few people have problems with taking private property for obvious public uses like roads, bridges, or schools. But courts have interpreted “public use” to mean pretty much anything the government says is for the benefit of the public, or for a “public purpose.” . . .

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