I know more than a little about public use law, because John Eastman & I co-authored an amicus curiae brief in Kelo for the Claremont Institutes Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence. I have a few reactions to the outrage against the Supreme Courts decision in Kelo, which people can consider for what theyre worth.
First, anyone whos outraged by the result needs to understand that the law went south more than 50 years ago. In a 1954 case called Berman v. Parker, the Supreme Court gave local governments broad power to use "blight" as a rationale to redistribute private property, and suggested in the process that the Public Use Clause was a dead letter. My sense is that, by the 1970s and 1980s, local governments had gotten so accustomed to deference that they stopped using blight and started citing economic development by itself. Kelo just ratified that development.
To be sure, its a little more egregious when the city kicks an owner out purely to generate more revenue than when it does so on the pretext that the owners land is blighted because it doesnt have a 2-car garage. But anyone whos mad about Kelo should have been mad about Berman. I guess Kelos different because its a new decision, because condemnation is more prevalent now than it was in 1954, because pro-property groups are better organized now than then, and -- most of all -- because in Kelo the Supreme Court issued a holding that everyone can understand without complicating issues like "blight."