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April 19 2018

More on Little Pink House

by Charlotte Hays

Quote of the Day:

Next February 24, Little Pink House will win the Oscar for Best Picture if Hollywood’s political preening contains even a scintilla of sincerity about speaking truth to power.

--George Will

As previously noted, "Little Pink House" is about the working class citizens of New London, Connecticut who in 1997 learned that the government had decided to take their houses from them to use the property in ways the government thought would be more lucrative for the city coffers.

Here is the movie's plot summary from George Will:

In 1997, New London, Conn., was experiencing hard times. Its government decided, as governments always do, that it wanted more revenue. A private entity, the New London Development Corp. (NLDC), wanted to entice the Pfizer Pharmaceutical Corporation, which was about to introduce a popular blue pill, to locate a research facility on land adjacent to a blue-collar residential neighborhood. The city empowered the NLDC to wield the awesome, potentially life-shattering power of eminent domain if, as happened, it failed to persuade all the homeowners to sell for an upscale private development to “complement” Pfizer’s facility. Some, led by Susette Kelo (played by Catherine Keener, two-time Oscar nominee), refused.

Kelo’s tormentor is an oily NLDC operative (played by Emmy nominee Jeanne Tripplehorn) who is fluent in the pitter-patter of crony capitalism: The NLDC will make New London “vital and hip” using a public-private “collaboration” wherein uprooted homeowners will be “part of our team” because “social justice and economic development go hand in hand” as the NLDC integrates “the infrastructure of large corporations to the brass-tacks needs of our city’s most . . .”

The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided against the homeowners in a 5-4 verdict--the famous Kelo case that has remained controversial. The residents were represented by the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit, libertarian legal organization. As Will put it, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted thNew London's "sophistical argument that virtually erased the Constitution’s circumscription of government’s eminent domain power."

The late Justice Antonin Scalia was one of the Justices who voted in the minority on Kelo:

To seize Kelo’s pink house, New London did not assert blight. Instead, it argued that “public use” is synonymous with “public benefit,” and that the public would benefit from Pfizer’s paying more taxes than would Kelo and her neighbors. During oral arguments, Justice Antonin Scalia distilled New London’s argument: “You can take from A to give to B if B pays more taxes.” In a dissent joined by William Rehnquist, Clarence Thomas, and Scalia, Sandra Day O’Connor warned that the decision’s consequences “will not be random”: Factions whose affluence makes them desirable taxpayers and whose political influence makes them politically potent will join governments in seizing the property of low-income citizens who are not as lucrative for local governments.

By getting the U.S. Supreme Court’s attention, and eliciting strong dissents that highlight the horribleness of the majority’s decision, Kelo and IJ ignited national revulsion that has produced new state limitations on eminent domain, limitations that reestablish the Framers’ intentions.

Pink House, which opens in select theaters tomorrow, had a  sold out premiere in New London at the 1400-seat Garde Arts Center.

In addition to Will, the legal blog Volokh Conspiracy had a good analysis of the movie.

Meanwhile, the plaintiffs' former neighborhood is vacant--the houses were seized but government didn't, after all, know best.

The Pfizer project came to nought.

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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