Kelo Decision Motivates Plan for ‘Lost Liberty Hotel’

Published August 1, 2005

U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter, a key swing vote in the Court’s Kelo v. City of New London, Connecticut decision, may soon be put in the same situation as the losing plaintiff in the landmark case.

In Kelo, decided June 23, the Court ruled a local government may exercise eminent domain power to transfer real estate from one private citizen to another private citizen if the government believes the property would be more economically valuable, and hence deliver more tax revenue, if put to a different use by the new owner.

Justice’s Home Wanted

Souter, who voted with the Kelo majority, may soon face a predicament similar to that faced by the homeowners whose property was taken by New London.

On June 27, Logan Darrow Clements faxed a request to the City of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to build a hotel on the property at 34 Cilley Hill Road–the home address of Souter.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, says Weare will reap greater tax revenue and economic benefits from a hotel on that property than by allowing Souter to continue to live there.

Clements notes in the fax, “Although this property is owned by an individual, David H. Souter, a recent Supreme Court decision, ‘Kelo vs. City of New London,’ clears the way for this land to be taken by the Government of Weare through eminent domain and given to my LLC for the purposes of building a hotel. The justification for such an eminent domain action is that our hotel will better serve the public interest, as it will bring in economic development and higher tax revenue to Weare.”

‘Not a Prank’

The proposed hotel would be called “The Lost Liberty Hotel” and would feature a “Just Desserts CafĂ©” and a museum, open to the public, housing a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America.

Built on Souter’s homesite, the proposed hotel would likely be a popular tourist destination, according to Clements, and thus should be attractive to potential investors.

“This would be sweet justice if it were actually to come off,” said Sterling Burnett, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. “It shows how the sanctity of peoples’ homes now exists solely at the whim of local politicians.

“This proposed hotel shows the ludicrous nature of the decision,” Burnett added. “It would be nice if these high and mighty justices begin personally feeling the impact of their decisions.”

“This is not a prank,” said Clements in a June 27 news release. “The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter, we can begin our hotel development.”

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

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